Elsewhere (96)
Much Fun, Some Singeing

Elsewhere (97)

Daniel Hannan considers fracking and its opponents:  

When I spoke in the European Parliament in support of fracking, most of the negative comments I received did not focus on specific safety concerns. Rather, they complained in general terms that fracking would ‘poison the planet’ or ‘bleed Mother Earth’ for no higher cause than ‘greed’. What is meant here by ‘greed’ is the desire for material improvement that has driven every advance since the old stone age… ‘Greed’, in this sense, is why we still have teeth after the age of 30, why women no longer expect to die in childbirth, why we have coffee and computers and cathedrals. ‘Greed’ is why we have time to listen to Beethoven and go for country walks and play with our children. Cheaper energy, on any measure, improves our quality of life. But this is precisely what at least some Greens object to. 

What they want, as they frankly admit, is decarbonisation, deindustrialisation and depopulation. They regard the various advances we’ve made since the old stone age – the coffee, the computers, the cathedrals – with regret. What society needs, they tell us, is not green consumerism, but less consumerism. Which is, of course, precisely what most Western countries have had since 2008. The crash brought about all the things that eco-warriors had been demanding: lower GDP, less consumption, a decline in international trade. Yet, oddly, when it happened, they didn’t seem at all satisfied.

As the reliably wrong ecological doomsayer Paul Ehrlich told the Los Angeles Times in 1989, “It’d be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. Like giving a machine gun to an idiot child.” Ehrlich’s fellow activist Jeremy Rifkin added, “It’s the worst thing that could happen to our planet.”

Somewhat related, this. More Dan Hannan here

Tim Worstall on a certain, clearly evil, coffeehouse chain: 

Why Starbucks isn’t paying the corporation tax due on its profits is thus explained: it’s not making any profits that it has to pay corporation tax upon. But such is the moral panic that people are still shouting at them. As to where the money is going that is simple enough. Try reading Ricardo on rent....or if that’s too much for you, read Tim Harford’s first chapter in Undercover Economist. Which uses London coffee shops to explain Ricardo on rent. The competition for the land and or sites which get a lot of passing thirsty traffic is such that rents soar and the landlords get all the money. Which they are indeed taxed upon as rents are one of those things that you really cannot shift about in and out of a tax jurisdiction. Starbucks isn’t paying tax this is true: but the economic activity of coffee shops is, it's just through the landlords.

And Heather Mac Donald mulls the politics of policing New York: 

For the last decade and a half, anti-cop advocates and their political allies have assailed discretionary stops as racist because the vast majority of stop subjects are black and Hispanic. This argument ignores the reality that the vast majority of criminals and victims are also black and Hispanic. Given that fact, the police cannot deploy their resources to the neighbourhoods where law-abiding residents most need protection without producing racially disparate stop and arrest data. The NYPD’s stop rate for blacks is actually lower than their representation among known violent offenders. Blacks, who constitute 23 percent of the city’s population, committed 66 percent of all violent crimes in 2011, according to victims and witnesses, and 73 percent of all shootings — but they were only 53 percent of all stop subjects. By contrast, whites, who constitute 35 percent of the city’s population, committed 6 percent of all violent crimes and 3 percent of all shootings. They made up 9 percent of all stops.

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.


Another John

What society needs, they tell us, is not green consumerism, but less consumerism… Yet, oddly, when it happened, they didn't seem at all satisfied.

Exhibit A: George Monbiot...



Exhibit A: George Monbiot…

As noted here many, many times, he’s an odd chap, our George. Always certain, usually wrong.


If you raised business rates and cut corp tax you could get the tax, and not ruin the economy...

But the LIBLABCON party loves rent-seeking.


"Have liberals lost the argument on immigration?"



“Have liberals lost the argument on immigration?”

You have to marvel at the chutzpah. The idea that Zoe Williams and her peers are liberal is almost funny, in a grim kind of way. Like George Monbiot, Zoe Williams is a bien-pensant leftist, one who’s economically illiterate and prone to spite. Which isn’t quite the same thing.


According to Williams the only reason working class people don't like mass immigration is because they're being fed racist messages to distract them from other problems like not having a high enough minimum wage. So it's nothing to do with lots of working class people seeing their neighbourhoods being transformed and not liking it much?


Joan, what are you doing even *thinking* such things? I recommend a lengthy stay in one of the People's Glorious Correctional Facilities. There are several spaces in the Siberian ones last time I checked.


Okay that's enough channelling of the People's Cube :P . More seriously, I've been reading Edmund Burke's "Reflections" & one thing in particular struck me in his description of the intellectuals behind the French Revolution. Namely that they are so obsessed about abstract and absolute rights that they ignore or forget all the little details - including the actual people involved. Not that I'd expect many lefties to admit to this problem: according to them, human nature is very malleable, and not unchanging as Burke supposed it to be...


Ah, the fate of the "public intellectual" - too much public, not enough intellect. Never mind, though, the newsies will give you a boost, in return for selling whatever it is they're selling this week.



So it’s nothing to do with lots of working class people seeing their neighbourhoods being transformed and not liking it much?

Ah, but. On such controversial subjects you mustn’t allow the proles’ own opinions to enter the discussion, not without supervision and heavy filtering. That’s pretty much the first rule of bien-pensant leftism. The indigenous proles might say something ghastly and shocking, and so More Enlightened People™ must speak on their behalf. Even if that means insinuating yet another variation of false consciousness.


I'm waiting for a video of Zoe Williams debating Heather Mac Donald.


Argument? What argument?

The Cons laid out their objections, and the Progs responded by yelling "RACIST!"

Hardly what one could call an "argument".

Spiny Norman

Ah, but mojo, in Proglandia, that counts as a decisive victory.


I’m waiting for a video of Zoe Williams debating Heather Mac Donald.

I think we can both guess how that would turn out.

I can’t help noticing how, in the video above, Zoe Williams doesn’t address Goodhart’s points about assimilation and the speed with which demographics have changed. Instead, she tries to insinuate that Goodhart has made a racist assumption by wilfully distorting what he actually wrote. But then, like so many of her peers, Zoe can see racism in the vibrations of atomic nuclei. For her, the term “hoodie” is a “sinister racial code word” and public concern about dangerous dogs actually signals a fear of “young black men.” (In neither case was any evidence deemed necessary.)

In terms of logic and evidence, these strategies are often laughable, but they can have an effect, especially when reinforced by our state broadcaster. I’ve had two or three exchanges with people who were concerned about mass immigration and the alienation and loneliness of elderly relatives who live in parts of town that have been transformed rapidly and quite dramatically. More to the point, they were worried about whether they could even talk about these things, however thoughtfully, without immediately being dismissed as bigots. They raised the subject tentatively and in hushed tones, obviously sounding out how I might react.

And some on the left quite like this learned inhibition. Sometime in October 2010, I was half-listening to BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends programme – a sort of whimsical revue of chat, music and substandard leftwing comedy. The comedian of the week (whose name I didn’t catch) was very much amused by the taboos surrounding immigration and multiculturalism. The tone was triumphal. The gist of his punch line was “Isn’t it hilarious that people who have concerns about immigration and assimilation now have to be quiet because otherwise they’ll be called racists. Ha! We won!” This was deemed incredibly funny. And note the assumed “we”.


"And note the assumed “we”."

Note also they've considered they've won because they've shut down all debate, not because they've engaged in debate and come off the better.

Mr Andrew D Rowe

Fracking has become a innocent victim of the war against capitalism, industry, big business and big oil. It no longer matters about the science or facts around the industry, just who can be accused of supporting it. Much like GMO opposition.


The gist of his punch line was “Isn’t it hilarious that people who have concerns about immigration and assimilation now have to be quiet because otherwise they’ll be called racists. Ha! We won!”

Cue music. "And now Mohammed, tell us what 'we've' won!" Mohammed says, "Well, Johnny, . . . '


Here's a recent article in The Guardian with yet another "humans are evil" theme. The author is apparently undaunted by the fact that such articles have appeared ever since Malthus

With The Guardian's typical laser-like precision, they have utterly missed the real story: That world population growth is falling quickly, and in a few decades population may even begin to fall. This is already happening in many regions of the world.

This is huge, one of the most important stories of our time. But the dooms day cults soldier on.


Hi David,

I've been lurking in the corner for a few years and this is the first time I've felt the need to speak up. I wouldn't normally do so, but I think that perhaps scrawling some notes on the back of one of your beer coasters might amuse, intrigue, or tickle the people crowded around the bar.

So: "Here's a recent article in The Guardian with yet another "humans are evil" theme."

When studying the mathematics of population growth, Malthusian models tend to be taught most in schools. These demonstrate exponential growth (which a lot of secondary school curriculums insist on teaching, though the author of the linked book excerpt seems to find the phenomenon frightening), although some models show oscillatory behaviours, too. Malthusian models are limited, however, and we moved past them in the 19th century with Verhulst’s Logistic Equation.

The model I used frequently when studying population dynamics was the logistic equation in the form: dP/dt = kP(1-P/K)

Wikipedia is quite good in this instance - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logistic_equation#In_ecology:_modeling_population_growth

Now, k and K are constants and K is particularly important: it's the carrying capacity, the constant that limits population growth. For wild species, this may be quantitatively determined by studying limitations of food availability, water and habitat.

When it comes to modelling human population dynamics however, it is much more difficult to determine the carrying capacity due to our species' innate ability to innovate. We vaccinate against disease, genetically modify food to cope with extreme temperatures, use insecticides and pesticides, medicine, surgery, cheap energy, food preservation, building climate-controlled shelter (houses!) ... you get the idea. (A good example is Emmott’s reference to cotton farming – if we can’t farm cotton, we wear polyester. I always failed to understand how ‘progressives’ have such a static view of human existence as if change does not occur without some state-sponsored hand as prime mover.) No value for K has yet been found – all we can do is figure out how big the population will be, but we cannot determine whether it’s as big as it can get.

More information can be found in the academic literature, particularly 'Population Growth and Earth's Human Carrying Capacity' by Cohen (1995). This sums up our knowledge pretty thoroughly. As far as I'm aware, no new advances have been made in determining our carrying capacity, though the UN has tried. (And I'd be interested to know if your readers are aware of any advances, too. My knowledge is somewhat limited.)

Like I said, this is a brief summary of the mathematics. I studied modelling as an undergraduate, and looked at population dynamics, the spread of diseases through populations, and wave/fluid dynamics (less modelling, more Navier-Stokes in that last one). The maths is quite simple in this case (relatively, I guess), and I don't understand why better information isn't out there. (Well, I kind of do, but you know...) The rub is: the world is fine, population growth is sustainable, and the Earth will let us know if it’s not.

PS: there are stacks of other mathematics in Emmott’s excerpt that I could pick apart but it’s late in the antipodes. Much too late.




I’ve been lurking in the corner for a few years…

Years? Blimey. I sometimes forget that the overwhelming majority of people who read this thing are ‘silent’. Thanks for joining in. I wish more lurkers would. It’s kind of the point of the place. And as I think has been demonstrated umpteen times, the threads are often more interesting than the posts that start them.

If I offer cake and liquor maybe more will join in.



Greenists try to censor.



Whatever you have to say about these two, they were walking in this instance, just walking. You saw the assault. You saw police refusing to arrest the assailants and the assailants standing behind.

Jeff Guinn

"What they want, as they frankly admit, is ... depopulation."

In other words: just the right amount of me, and way too many of thee.


AC, it's the 21st century. It's not what you see, it's what you feel that counts now. Observe the Zimmerman trial comments in both the media and certain segments of the general population. That's the feeling, anyway.


I was once stopped and interrogated by the cops, though not actually searched, many years ago. Walking home from a disastrous charity weekend hike at 3pm one very wet morning (following an exceptionally wet weekend, as fate would have it) a police car drew up alongside me and asked what i was doing out at that time in the morning. I was tired, cold and dripping water but I explained I had been walking to raise cash and was now heading home. The cops looked at bedraggled me and then drove off to leave me to slog the last couple of miles home.

I suppose, if I was of that political persuasion, I could say I was unfairly stopped. The outraged in me could say I was another example of the police abusing their powers etc.

But in reality I wished they had given me a lift, though I don't suppose they wanted the back of their patrol car swimming in water and anyway that wasn't their job. Even as a spotty yoof i understood their job was to keep the sleeping locals safe.


I did of course mean 3am, not 3pm. As a spotty yoof I clearly did not understand time, and probably still don't.

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