Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

How environmentalists shut down debate on campus

original article: DIVESTING FROM FREE SPEECH
September 10, 2015 by RACHELLE PETERSON

Students campaigning to get universities to divest from fossil fuels are in two minds about free speech. They want it for themselves, but don’t seem keen on free speech for their opponents.

The divestment movement didn’t invent free-speech hypocrisy, but divestment activists offer a range of old and new reasons as to why opposing views should not be tolerated.

The debate is over

The divestment movement claims to like debate. It is convinced that anyone with an open mind can’t help but agree that divesting is a good thing to do.

‘Colleges would already be divesting if it were just about the arguments, because there are plenty out there’, says full-time campaigner Jess Grady-Benson, leader of an ardent student divestment campaign at Pitzer College in California. Bill McKibben, founder of the activist group 350.org and the international divestment movement, declared at a recent rally: ‘We won the argument. Twenty years ago we lost the fight and that’s because the fight was never about data.’

If, in your own mind, you have won the substantive argument, but your opponent continues to persuade the audience to his side, what can you do? Declare the debate to be over? Yank the microphone away from the moderator? Refuse to share a platform with anyone who so wrongheadedly persists in thinking the debate is notover? These might sound like exaggerated metaphors, but they are actual examples of what divestarians have done in the past. The commandeering of the microphone, for example, took place when a group of divestment activists, calling themselvesMountain Justice, took over a debate on divestment with Swarthmore College’s board of trustees. The rowdy group then went on a 90-minute screed about the need for ‘radical emancipatory action’ and cancelled the question-and-answer section where students and faculty could weigh in. When two students in the audience dared to ask if the meeting could be returned to order, divestment activists clapped them down in unison and told them to leave.

Delaying by debating

The divestment movement is sometimes in favour of debate, but in the same breath it spurns debate as a delaying tactic. Dialogue, it says, is enemy territory occupied by the fossil-fuel industry – debate is the industry’s way to buy time. Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian of science, has convinced activists that the fossil-fuel industry has tainted scientific literature, political processes and the media. Anyone who advocates dialogue is immediately suspect.

Swarthmore activist Kate Aronoff verbalised the movement’s free-speech angst in a post called ‘F*** Your Constructive Dialogue’. She criticised her liberal friends who were mimicking conservatives in ‘deploying identical arguments in defence of tolerant civil discourse’. She found the dialogue suffocating and wanted sheer ‘conflict’.

Declaring debate to be over and deciding that there was no ground for debate in the first place is contradictory, but it all leads to the same conclusion – only the divestarians have a moral claim to free speech. Dissenters are either fools or knaves, and it would be a waste of precious time to give them the opportunity to speak. That time is better spent in preventing them from speaking.

Smear your opponents

McKibben says the divestment movement’s censorious tactics do the whole world a favour by cutting through political posturing and getting back to the facts. Fossil-fuel companies have ‘bought’ the politicians and the media, apparently, and the divestment campaign exposes the soundbite half-truths they are paid to say.

But the divestment movement has itself honed the art of slanting messages and demonising opponents. Indeed, demonisation is its entire purpose.

McKibben says that divestment’s aim is to ‘revoke the social license’ of the fossil-fuel industry and turn companies into ‘pariahs’. Anyone who happens to oppose divestment is up for being labelled a pariah, too. Boards of trustees who vote against divestment learn this immediately – they are accused of climate-change denial, oligarchical behaviour and, in almost every case, money grubbing. Most US colleges promote sustainability and nearly 700 American colleges have taken pledges to go carbon neutral. Nevertheless, if they don’t rush to divest entirely, they still get painted as pawns of the fossil-fuel industry.

Polarising opinion

The divestment movement insists it is taking steps towards political healing. Once corporations quit buying the political system, it says, the people will make the ‘right’ decision about climate change. ‘Left to our own devices, citizens might decide to regulate carbon’, says McKibben, but right now we ‘aren’t left to our own devices’ – you know, because of the Koch brothers, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Party peppering us with propaganda.

Divestment campaigns intentionally make political divides worse. They want to sidestep real debates about energy policy and carbon taxes and boil them into simple ‘yeas’ and ‘nays’ on divestment. Campaigns at Harvard, Middlebury College,Tufts University and more, asked dissenters to get ‘on the right side of history’. According to divestarians, those who disagree with them are not only factually and morally incorrect, but also historically illiterate.

Isolating opposition

This polarisation goes deep. Divestment activists may well open an abbey soon – they don’t mingle with the non-believers. Innumerable activists have refused to speak to myself and others because we oppose divestment. Harvard psychologist James Recht, active in Harvard’s divestment campaign and the nationwide American Faculty/Staff Divestment Network, filled me in on the new speech codes within the divestment movement. ‘We expect our peers to be forthright about their attitudes and their political views. If someone agrees with me, we tend to talk openly about our interests. And if someone disagrees…’ He trailed off. The divestment movement’s motto might well be this: free speech for me, but not for thee.

Of course, none of this would matter if the opposition to the divestment movement was hypothetical – if the debate really was over, or the opponents were merely stooges. But, in fact, the opposition is robust, thoughtful and well-armed with cogent arguments and compelling evidence – a situation that suggests the divestarians’ aversion to debate is based on something other than principle.

Selling off oil stocks in the name of eco-purity does not in fact help the environment. Someone else will simply buy up those divested stocks. What’s more, divestment costs money and those stocks are valuable. And campaigning sucks student time away from studying and channels it into emotionally addictive but pointless activism. It scapegoats an industry, but lets consumers off scot-free.

Divestment, however, is today’s fastest-growing student movement. Beginning at a handful of small colleges in 2011, the drive to persuade colleges to divest is now an organised presence on more than 500 campuses. Thirty-seven universities, including Oxford, Stanford and Georgetown, have acceded to the pressure by divesting or promising to do so in the future.

The breadth of the movement shows that climate demagoguery is a force to be reckoned with. It has done virtually nothing to clean up pollution, but has gone far in scrubbing the free exchange of ideas from the academic environment.

abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, censorship, corruption, discrimination, education, elitism, energy, environment, extremism, free speech, global warming, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, oppression, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda

Filed under: abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, censorship, corruption, discrimination, education, elitism, energy, environment, extremism, free speech, global warming, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, oppression, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda

Obamacare supporters finding it harder to defend architect

White House basically lied to minimize Jonathan Gruber’s role in shaping Obamacare
June 22, 2015 by Ben Bullard

Controversial MIT economist Jonathan Gruber reportedly played key role in ObamaCare law
June 22, 2015 by Fox News

Editor says he owes GOP sources ‘an apology’ after new Gruber emails
June 24, 2015 by Fox News

Obfuscatedcare
by Snopes.com

It should be pointed out that although Gruber’s comments suggest the Obama administration relied on obfuscation, distortion, lies, and manipulations to pass the increasingly ironically named “Affordable Care Act” the reason you’ll find so many defenders of Obamacare treating this scandal like it’s no big deal is because that’s how legislation is normally passed in Congress every day. It’s not a big deal to the corrupt political machine in Washington, D.C. or to its ultra-left groupies in the news media.

bias, bureaucracy, congress, corruption, culture, Democrats, economy, energy, ethics, extremism, fraud, government, health care, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, lies, nanny state, news media, pandering, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, taxes

Filed under: bias, bureaucracy, congress, corruption, culture, Democrats, economy, energy, ethics, extremism, fraud, government, health care, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, lies, nanny state, news media, pandering, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, taxes

EPA: Fracking poses no ‘widespread, systemic’ harm to drinking water

original article: EPA: Fracking poses no ‘widespread, systemic’ harm to drinking water
June 4, 2015 by ELANA SCHOR

A long-awaited EPA report on hydraulic fracturing hands a victory to the oil and gas industry, concluding that the extraction process has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”

The conclusions of EPA’s years-long fracking study should bolster natural gas producers, who have benefited from Obama administration environmental policies that shrunk the coal industry’s hold on the electricity industry.

Fracking has helped turn the U.S. into an energy superpower in recent years, but it’s also set off a political firestorm. Fueled by the Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland,” which told the story of a flaming tap water and well water contamination in a Pennsylvania town, the state of New York, as well as the cities of Pittsburgh and Denton, Texas enacted bans on the technology.

But environmentalists have had little success in curbing fracking on a large scale. Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has hailed natural gas as playing “an important bridge role in the transition to a cleaner energy economy.”

That stance puts her largely in line with President Barack Obama, who has championed domestic gas and seen U.S. economy benefit from resurgence in oil production from fracking in states such as North Dakota and Texas.

Still, the EPA’s findings do not fully dismiss environmentalist concerns that fracking could imperil the water supply, pointing to “potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.”

Among the possible areas of risk from fracking, according to EPA’s study, are “water withdrawals in areas with low water availability; hydraulic fracturing conducted directly into formations containing drinking water resources; inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquids; inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources; and spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including flowback and produced water.”

The EPA study, first requested by Congress during the fiscal 2010 appropriations cycle, is not designed to evaluate the effectiveness of existing fracking regulations or suggest new rules for the practice. The agency conducted a comprehensive peer review of existing studies on fracking’s drinking water impacts.

energy, environment, science, study

Filed under: energy, environment, science, study

These People Are Turning Waste into a Precious Resource

2014 by Tyler Castle

In the debate over economic systems, a fundamental question exists: Is economics a zero-sum game?

Generally, proponents of socialism tend to say yes. There is a fixed pie of wealth, so we should make sure that it is split evenly.

Proponents of capitalism disagree. Rather than splitting a single pie, we ought to focus on creating more pies (a.k.a. wealth). But how realistic is that? Isn’t there a fixed amount of resources on earth? After all, no one is out there creating matter out of nothing.

Sometimes this train of thought sounds convincing, until I read something like this:

People around the world produce an estimated 6.4 trillion litres of urine every year. BRL [Bristol Robotics Laboratory], a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, want to make the most of this abundant resource. […] They have developed a new technique to turn urine into electrical power—or “urine-tricity” as they call it. (from The Economist)

Forgive me if this seems crass, but how cool is that? Scientists have found a way to turn completely useless (well, not anymore) human waste into something incredibly valuable. Their experiments have found urine capable of “recharg[ing] commercially available batteries, including those in mobile phones.” We haven’t found a replacement for fossil fuels, but still…maybe it is possible to make something out of nothing?

This illustrates an important point. As Damian Von Stauffenberg states, “What creates wealth? People create wealth! The source of wealth is inside our head. It’s our creativity, something we’ve been endowed with.” Although we will never be able to create physical matter out of thin air, we have immense power to generate wealth through human ingenuity. And this changes everything.

If economics is not a zero-sum game, it means our focus should be on creating more wealth for everyone, rather than limiting what some have so that everyone can have an equal—and small—share. So, in this case, rather than limit how much energy people consume, we should invest in research that finds creative new sources.

What does this mean for public policy?

Policies that address poverty and inequality by simply dividing a pot of wealth that already exists are old hat. By the complex regulatory structures that such policies form, they inevitably crowd out potentially amazing innovations. Furthermore, a system that merely redistributes wealth to those in need ignores the potential that those same people have to create wealth themselves. Policies that instead seek to unleash the potential of human creativity in us all—i.e. by improving our education system or creating the conditions for a vibrant economy—will move us toward a brighter future.

I mean, if we can turn urine into electricity, what else might be possible?

original article: These People Are Turning Waste into a Precious Resource

capitalism, crisis, economics, energy, freedom, innovation, philosophy, science, socialism

Filed under: capitalism, crisis, economics, energy, freedom, innovation, philosophy, science, socialism

What happened to the ‘consensus’ and the ‘settled science’?

Dare I say this out loud? The news, political, and entertainment industries have no scientific credibility. Maybe we should actually look at the science ourselves.

No Need to Panic About Global Warming
There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy
January 27, 2012

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about “global warming.” Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

Concerned Scientists Reply on Global Warming
The authors of the Jan. 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed, ‘No Need to Panic about Global Warming,’ respond to their critics.
February 21, 2012

The computer-model predictions of alarming global warming have seriously exaggerated the warming by CO2 and have underestimated other causes. Since CO2 is not a pollutant but a substantial benefit to agriculture, and since its warming potential has been greatly exaggerated, it is time for the world to rethink its frenzied pursuit of decarbonization at any cost.

alternative energy, bureaucracy, economy, energy, environment, global warming, greenhouse, reform, science, study

Filed under: alternative energy, bureaucracy, economy, energy, environment, global warming, greenhouse, reform, science, study

Make up yer mind: global warming emergency or cooling emergency?

Climate Alarmists Backpedal: China Now Responsible for Global Cooling
July 5, 2011 by Aubrey Vaughan

Frustrated climate alarmists, who have failed to match global temperature trends to their dramatic global warming predictions for years, have come up with a counterintuitive study to explain the lack of global warming since 1998: China’s excessive burning of coal during its rapid growth had a cooling effect on the earth’s temperature.

The new study, based on Fox News global warming skepticism, contradicts much of the anti-coal sentiments held by environmentalists. While it explains that burning coal does emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it also releases heat-reflecting sulfur into the atmosphere, and the two work to cancel each other’s effects out.

This study comes after global warming skeptics questioned lead researcher Robert Kaufmann about the lack of global warming over the past decade.

read full article here

energy, environment, global warming, greenhouse, science, study

Filed under: energy, environment, global warming, greenhouse, science, study

Progressives encourage Obama to politicize tragedy and crisis

Robert Redford: Obama Should Use Gulf Spill to Push ‘Decent Energy Policy’
June 28, 2010 by Matt Robare

Robert Redford, one of the most popular and succesful actors of our age, has joined with other entertainers, including Sir Paul McCartney and Rosie O’Donnell in encouraging the Obama administration to actively politicize the Gulf crisis and use it to push through on energy policy.
In an interview with ExtraTV, Redford said that Obama should “Grab this moment in history and get a decent energy policy.” He also said “Here’s a moment in our history where he [Obama] should grab leadership and run with it.”

bias, energy, environment, government, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, president, propaganda, public policy, reform

Filed under: bias, energy, environment, government, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, president, propaganda, public policy, reform

Obama administration: US big oil bad, Brazil big oil good

Judge blocks Gulf offshore drilling moratorium
June 22, 2010 by MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A federal judge struck down the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, saying the government rashly concluded that because one rig failed, the others are in immediate danger, too.
The White House promised an immediate appeal. The Interior Department had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling of 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama believes strongly that drilling at such depths does not make sense and puts the safety of workers “at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford.”

Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling
Too bad it’s not in U.S. waters

AUGUST 18, 2009 by Wallstreet Journal

You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil.

The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil’s Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.

Democrats, energy, foreign affairs, government, hypocrisy, left wing, liberalism, oil, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, president, public policy, regulation

Filed under: Democrats, energy, foreign affairs, government, hypocrisy, left wing, liberalism, oil, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, president, public policy, regulation

ABC News Absolves Obama of Oil Spill Blame by Bashing Sarah Palin

ABC News Absolves Obama of Oil Spill Blame by Bashing Sarah Palin
May 23, 2010 by Noel Sheppard

ABC News on Sunday marvelously absolved President Obama of any blame concerning the Gulf oil spill by bashing former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

After “World News Sunday’s” opening segment about the crisis and how local citizens are being impacted, anchor Dan Harris said, “As we reported, the President is turning up the heat on BP, but the President is also feeling some heat himself with many critics questioning the way the White House is handling this crisis.”

He then asked senior Washington editor Rick Klein, “Is there any evidence to substantiate the claim that the White House has been somehow abdicating responsibility and allowing BP to pick up too much of the heavy-lifting in this crisis?”

Strangely, Klein’s response involved Palin

bias, bigotry, energy, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, news media, oil, pandering, philosophy, politics, propaganda, relativism, tragedy

Filed under: bias, bigotry, energy, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, news media, oil, pandering, philosophy, politics, propaganda, relativism, tragedy

EPA increases ethanol requirements despite the harm it causes

Government Passes New Fuel Economy Standards
April 02, 2010 by U. S. News and World Report

Ethanol: dud as a fuel substitute and damages engines

Corn Ethanol Will Not Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

bullies, bureaucracy, energy, environment, fuel, global warming, government, greenhouse, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, public policy, regulation

Filed under: bullies, bureaucracy, energy, environment, fuel, global warming, government, greenhouse, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, public policy, regulation

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