The Soho Forum Global Warming Debate, And The Impact Of Scientific Arguments

As you may have noticed from the announcement that appeared for the past week or so on my sidebar, the Soho Forum held a debate Monday night on the issue of Global Warming. The official resolution for the debate was Resolved: There is little or no rigorous evidence that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous global warming and threatening life on the planet. The debaters were Craig Idso for the affirmative, and Jeffrey Bennett for the negative.

For those who haven’t heard of it, the Soho Forum sponsors debates, roughly monthly, on current policy issues. The venue is usually the Subculture Theater, at 45 Bleecker Street in Manhattan. The Forum’s Director is long-time Barron’s senior editor Gene Epstein, and the Chief Operating Officer is my daughter Jane. Other recent Soho Forum debate topics have included things like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the causes of the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Holding a debate on the issue of global warming or “climate change” — and particularly one focused on the scientific question of whether empirical evidence supports or refutes the hypothesis of potential dangerous warming — is often difficult. Contrary to what you might think, the problem is not that it is hard to find scientifically-literate advocates for the skeptic position. Actually, there are plenty of those. Rather, the problem generally is that adherents to the alarmist cause refuse to debate anyone who disagrees with their position, often denigrating their adversaries as “climate deniers.” So Gene Epstein deserves credit for locating Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Bennett also deserves credit for being willing to put his position to the test.

On the other hand, the whole endeavor gave some real perspective on the practical limits of the human mind, or at least the large majority of even very intelligent human minds, to grapple with the basics of scientific reasoning and the scientific method. At its most fundamental, the scientific method is just an exercise in rigorous logic. . . .

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What Will It Take To End Anti-Greenhouse Gas Insanity?

It was nearly six years ago, in one of the very early posts on this blog, that I wrote as to the global warming scam, “[E]ven as the cause becomes more and more ridiculous, the advocates just double down again and again.” At the time, world temperatures had failed to rise in accordance with alarmist predictions for about 15 years running, and I still had the naive idea that the politics of this issue ultimately would follow the scientific method; in other words, that the hypothesis of catastrophic human-caused warming would inevitably be forced to face the test of empirical evidence. Over time, empirical evidence would accumulate. As it became more and more clear that the evidence failed to support the hypothesis, the whole thing would gradually fade away. But up to that point, as I reported in that April 2013 post, what was happening was closer to the opposite. Extremely weak or completely negative empirical evidence for the hypothesis only made the advocates more and more extreme in their demands for immediate transformation of the world economy to “save the planet.”

The intervening six years have seen the ongoing accumulation of considerably more evidence, essentially all of it negative to the catastrophic global warming hypothesis, but my faith that actual evidence could resolve the issue has been almost completely shattered. Massive alterations have been made to the world thermometer temperature records by US and UK bureaucrats — almost entirely to reduce early-year temperatures and thereby create an apparent warming trend far greater than exists in the raw data. I have covered this issue extensively in a now-twenty-two part series “The Greatest Scientific Fraud Of All Time.” Meanwhile, every hurricane, tornado, drought, flood, or other damaging act of nature is presented by the progressive press as evidence of human-caused “climate change” — even as the actual occurrences of such events have been definitively shown to have no increasing trend over time. Actual evidence gets massively altered, buried and/or ignored.

And now here we are in 2019, and the demands of the anti-greenhouse gas activists have only become more shrill and strident. Exhibit A is the so-called Green New Deal, a call to end most or all GHG emissions by 2030 at a cost of maybe 100 trillion dollars or so. And we are treated to claims by seemingly serious elected officials that the world will end in 12 years if we do not follow these prescriptions. If mere adverse empirical evidence cannot end this insanity, what can? . . .

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The Labor Department Thinks It Can "Fix" The Lack Of Racial Diversity At Major Law Firms

On Wednesday of this week, a guy named Craig Leen — Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in the Department of Labor — showed up in Manhattan to hold a “town hall” meeting with representatives of major law firms. The event was covered at here, and then commented on by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line here. The headline of the piece is “Government Warns Law Firms of Consequences for Diversity Failures.” Mirengoff characterizes the DOL’s effort as “seek[ing] to impose a radical diversity agenda on law firms.”

The gist of Leen’s presentation was that you guys have a big problem here that you need to “fix,” or there will be consequences. From

Craig Leen . . . told industry representatives at a town hall meeting in New York that the scarcity of women and minorities at firms in leading roles has been noted by the office, and it will be taking a closer look. Leen said in a brief interview after the meeting that “there is evidence of low representation at law firms and financial firms, and our goal is to fix it and work with them to do so." . . . Leen said during Wednesday's meeting that the office looks at systemic issues, “and we are seeing serious issues.”

So what’s your game plan, Craig? The article describes Leen making veiled threats of cutting off federal contracts for firms that don’t meet some unstated targets. He made these remarks to the right group, since there is no collection of people more filled with a deep sense of guilt over their success than major law firm leaders. On the other hand, since federal contracts are a very small part of the business of major law firms, the chance of Leen’s threat having any meaningful effect is about zero.

But more important, what are the “serious” and “systemic” issues that Leen claims to be seeing? . . .

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Income Inequality Comes Roaring Back Into The News

With the demise of the Russian collusion hoax, you knew that something would have to emerge to fill the giant hole in the newspapers and the TV news shows. It looks like the old perennial of “income inequality,” after some time mostly off the front pages, is now the first mantra to be found rushing in to fill the vacuum.

So there we had Ray Dalio — serious mega-billionaire and Co-Chairman of the country’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates — showing up on CBS’s “60 Minutes” yesterday to proclaim that income inequality is a “national emergency”:

“If I was the president of the United States,” Dalio said, “what I would do is recognize that this is a national emergency. . . .” “The American dream is lost,” he said. “For the most part we don’t even talk about what is the American dream. And it’s very different from when I was growing up.”

Simultaneously, Mr. Progressive himself, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, turned up in Nevada (of all places) to promote his self-delusional presidential campaign, and chose income inequality as his theme. From today’s New York Post:

[T]here needs to be a “bigger discussion about income inequality and oppression of other groups including Latinos, Native Americans, Asian and women,” he said at the event organized by the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road.

And, somewhat to my surprise, the income inequality drum beaters seem to have enlisted Tucker Carlson of Fox News as one of their spokespeople. Carlson has made statements on this subject several times, but here is an example quoted by Forbes (last November):

The biggest problem this country faces is income inequality, and neither the liberals nor the conservatives see it.

Here’s the problem I have with this: The “income inequality” mantra in the United States is almost as big a hoax as the Trump/Russia collusion scam. . . .

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If There Is "White Privilege," What Does It Consist Of?

You can’t have helped noticing that assertions of “white privilege” are all the rage on the left these days. Or maybe it’s “white male privilege.” For example, back in January, there was CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson throwing down the “white privilege” gauntlet on Beto O’Rourke: “Beto's excellent adventure drips with white male privilege.” Beto, of course, promptly acknowledged that Henderson was right, stating in Iowa on March 16, “As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on, or take for granted, I’ve clearly had advantages over the course of my life.” 

When I first heard the term “white privilege” gaining currency, my initial reaction was to doubt that it could amount to much of significance. In my own experience, ever since I was old enough to notice, every institution that I came in contact with, to the extent I could tell, was making every effort it possibly could to attract and advance minorities candidates, particularly African Americans. In many cases, these efforts would clearly have the effect, explicit or implicit, of disadvantaging whatever white candidates were competing for a limited number of slots. For example: . . .

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The Arguments In Favor Of Brexit Are More Persuasive Than Ever

Back at the time of the UK’s referendum on “Brexit” in June 2016, I wrote two posts on the subject: one on the June 23 date of the vote, and the other four days later. The first advocated in favor of the “leave” position, and the second gave some reasons to believe that just-endorsed departure would be a good thing.

One of the things I predicted was that the actual departure would not happen quickly or easily. The reason was that the forces of “stay” controlled high positions in the government and other leading institutions, had much to lose personally, and would not give up easily:

[D]o not expect the totalitarians and vested interests to give up easily.  I anticipate a protracted campaign of obstruction and delay, as the grafters desperately fight and claw to hang onto every last grant and perk.

Boy was I right about that one! Here we are, going on three years later, and the Brexit has still not occurred. Meanwhile the Brexit “process” has turned into a Perils of Pauline soap opera, barely escaping one supposed disaster after another seemingly every few days.

In the intervening years, I have listened to many well-informed people presenting very persuasive reasons why staying in the EU would be a good thing for the UK. . . .

But to me, none of these things outweighs the fundamental issue, which is that the EU has somehow come to embody the progressive dream of rule by permanent bureaucrats, convinced of their own expertise, who impose increasingly burdensome rules at their whim, and who cannot be voted out or held accountable by any known mechanism. Just in the past couple of weeks, we have a couple of new examples of how far this can go. . . .

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