COVID-19: The Beginning of the End?


COVID-19: The Beginning of the End?

By Neil Lock

Today, I’m going to look in a bit more depth at the COVID situation in the UK. And I’ll contrast it with the differing situations of some of its neighbours.

At the outset, I’ll say that the UK right now appears to be at least as well positioned against the virus as any other major Western European country. My informed gut feel is that we’re now not so far away from reaching herd immunity, and so beating the damned thing. Oh, and European countries like Germany, Austria and France, that have implemented high lockdown strategies recently, are starting to look a bit silly.

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Conservative Policy Institutes: The Same Old Same Old (Sean Gabb)


The Bruges Group:
The Same Old Same Old

Sean Gabb
(16th January 2022)

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Before deleting it all, I have just skimmed the contents of my junk folder. One of the messages is from the Bruges Group, and is New Year greetings from the 2nd January. The message from Barry Legg, a former Conservative Member of Parliament begins:

Well, we are still waiting to get Brexit done.

I should have deleted it all unread. The only effect this has had is to move me to another polemic when I have more productive and nowadays more enjoyable uses of my time. But I did read Mr Legg’s message. Here is my response to it.

The premise of the message is that our departure from the European Union was meant by those who managed it to be the beginning of a process. First, we were to regain our national independence. After this, we were to regain our personal freedom and general prosperity and status in the world. The complaint is that the Government we supported in 2019 has spent the past two years making “serious error[s] of political judgment.” The conclusion is that the Ministers should remember that they are Conservatives and start to govern as such.

This sort of thing may cheer up a few pensioners who look back to the 1980s as a golden age. I purged it from my e-mail software without so much as a bored sniff. What our rulers want of England is a big financial casino with shops and grouse moors and a few pretty things to look at. What we want is of no importance to them. We ourselves are of no importance to them, except as cooks, cleaners, drivers, jesters and providers of associated services.

There is, I admit, an important division between our rulers. There are those whose most visible representatives are in or clustered about the Royal Family, and who want us kept cold and in rags, given a culinary choice of veganism or processed bug pulp. There are those less delusional or stupid, who realise that someone needs to buy the things or pay the taxes that enrich them, and that there should be a broadly market order. But, stupid or greedy, they all agree that we are to have no say is how our country is run – and indeed are to be stripped of anything approximating the country we used to think we had.

Though not essential, membership of the European Union was useful to this project. Sovereignty was always in London, but could be veiled behind a set of institutional diagrams that led to an opaque Spaghetti Junction of agencies in Brussels. This meant we could splutter every so often with rage, but had no one to point at and hold accountable. Otherwise, it gave unlimited supplies of semi-skilled labour to keep wages low and thereby finance the growth of a parasitic bourgeoisie wholly supportive of the ruling class. But, if these ends could be achieved by other means, the 2016 Referendum was a shock to the ruling class. It threatened a revolution in which we might insist on something like the share in power that we sometimes had or approached in the twentieth century. The first response was an obvious and therefore an ill-thought betrayal. Theresa May was allowed to manage a purely notional departure. When this was noticed, and the reaction was a further threat of revolution, a more complete departure than expected had to be arranged.

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But there was no ghost of desire at the top for leaving the European Union to bring any overall change of direction. To be sure, the conjuring trick with sovereignty had to be given up. We all knew now who was in charge and therefore accountable. At the same time, if the lines of accountability were clear again, the dissolution of those to whom power might be accountable was already under way, and would now be accelerated. That nothing has been done about mass-immigration since 2019, except enable it from other parts of the world, is not an oversight. It is not because the Ministers are too weak to take charge of their departments. It is because diversity is the settled policy. It is the ideal solvent. The cause of all those troubles that began with the Referendum was that there were still too many unashamed English people. If there had been two or three fewer percentage points of voting strength in 2016, that unwelcome result could have been avoided. Now, let our rulers find an excuse to swell the population by another ten million or so, and it hardly matters if sovereignty is visible again. It is no more accountable than before.

This also explains the sudden encouragement of iconoclastic mobs and the new official culture of apology. The obvious and gloomy truth is that everyone alive is descended from rapists and slave-owners and murderers. These are the people who, for the past ten thousand years, have been filling up the gene pool. At any moment in that time, we can show a class of masters and a class of slaves. But the slaves have always been the less lucky descendants of earlier masters, and the masters the ancestors of future slaves. The best answer to this truth is to shrug and try not to rape and enslave and murder each other now. Instead, we have the official and semi-official promotion of a narrative in which the English are the only villains. It is as if a single still were extracted from a mile of cinema film. This is welcome to those foreigners who have some ancestral grudge against us, but has not been arranged for their chief benefit. The chief beneficiaries are those who rule us. It really is nothing for them if a few statues are pulled down, or if some streets or institutions are renamed. They can apologise themselves hoarse. They still keep their money and power. Better still, the louder they apologise, the safer they are from the only group likely to dispossess them. We are the ones depressed. We are the ones encouraged to think our history a catalogue of shame, and any complaints we have not fit for articulation.

Where does the Bruges Group fit into this analysis? The answer at best is nowhere. Its directors might as well still be denouncing Arthur Scargill or the Soviet Menace. This does not, I grant, make them bad people – only useless. When it comes to organisations like the Institute of Economic Affairs or the Adam Smith Institute, or the other supposedly conservative or libertarian policy institutes, I am less merciful. But that is for another article. I will leave Barry Legg to his ineffectual pining for the good old days of Margaret Thatcher. I have a video lecture to prepare on Greek relative clauses.

COVID-19: Omicron Reaches Europe


COVID-19: Omicron Reaches Europe

By Neil Lock

For my latest COVID rant, I thought I would return to the 14 countries, including the UK, which together form the core of Western Europe. First, because I wanted to see whether there was any evidence in the data that the “omicron” variant in the UK, and perhaps some other European countries, has indeed – as is claimed – a lowered risk of requiring hospitalization. If so, that will be good news. Second, I noticed that different European countries have often been taking completely different attitudes towards lockdowns over the last six months, and I wanted to compare and contrast both these differing attitudes and their results.

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Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom


Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom
by Patrick Moore

(2021:  Ecosense Environmental, Comox, BC, Canada)

ISBN 979-85685955-0-2

Paperback, 207 pages

Available from Amazon as a paperback or e-reader

Reviewed by Nicholas Dykes

Summary:  The idea that humans are causing a dramatic rise in global temperature by burning fossil fuels is simplynot trueThe small contribution to carbon dioxide – a trace element in the Earth’s atmosphere – made by human beings is actually highly beneficial.  The notion that it is harmful or dangerous is false.  So are all the other dire predictions made by climate alarmists.  Patrick Moore shows us why in this refreshingly clear, well-written and illuminating book. 

Patrick Moore is a mild-mannered, softly spoken Canadian with a doctorate in ecology from the University of British Columbia.  Growing up in the woods of northern Vancouver Island, he developed a lasting love for the natural world which prompted him early on to become an environmentalist.  Dr Moore’s love of nature led him to be one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, which started when a small group of like-minded friends and colleagues made a voyage to Alaska in 1971 to protest against US underground testing of hydrogen bombs.  Happily, as we know, their efforts were eventually rewarded by the end of all atomic weapons testing by the US and other countries.

            Greenpeace expanded rapidly in parallel with growing international awareness of environmental issues.  Unfortunately, as it grew, it gradually changed from a group of volunteers with “a noble vision” into “a business with an ever-expanding budget, a matching payroll to meet” and by 1986 “was … rapidly transforming into a racket peddling junk science” (p.10). 

            Scientist, and ‘sensible environmentalist’ Patrick Moore began to think about quitting.  The final straw was the decision by his fellow directors of Greenpeace International, none of whom had any formal scientific training, to launch a campaign to ban chlorine.  Dr Moore writes; “chlorine is the most important of the 94 natural elements for both public health and medicine …. more than 85% of our prescription medicines are made using chlorine chemistry.  Twenty-five percent of our medicines actually contain chlorine.  And then there’s polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC or simply vinyl, the most versatile of all the plastics.”  Banning chlorine would be madness.  Dr Moore had to leave.

            The theme of the book is explaining how Greenpeace and other environmental groups have managed to persuade huge numbers of ordinary people, politicians, journalists and even many scientists, that human beings are facing a series of catastrophes of their own making, global warming being the most pressing, and one which requires urgent, drastic action to prevent it.

            Dr Moore explains how this persuasion works:  “the great majority of scare stories about the present and future state of the planet, and humanity as a whole, are based on subjects that are either invisible, like COand radiation, or extremely remote, like polar bears and coral reefs.  Thus, most people have no way of determining the truth of these … [scare stories].  Instead, they must rely on the activists, the media, the politicians, and the scientists – all of whom have a very large financial and/or political stake in the subject…. ” (p.11).

            Chapter Three, “Climate of Fear and Guilt” is the vibrant heart of the book, which had stated at the outset:  “During the last 50 years we have adopted a lot of environmental policies that have changed the social and economic landscape considerably.  But today there are demands being made that would actually cripple society and the global economy permanently.  The push to ‘phase out all fossil fuel consumption in thirty years’ is certainly the biggest threat to civilization in the world today” (p.9).

            After a brief exposition of what true science consists of – observation, verification, repetition – the chapter examines the crucial but hugely misunderstood role of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  For Patrick Moore, and for any other genuine scientist, carbon dioxide is “the most important molecule for the existence of life on Earth” (p. 36).  Yet, “The entire ‘climate change catastrophe’ narrative, is based on the claim that humans are emitting too much CO2 into the atmosphere and that this will cause our planet to be too hot for life.  Both claims are patently false” (p.37).  “[The Earth] is actually colder than it has been during most of life’s existence” (p.59).  Dr Moore points out that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which were originally put there by volcanoes when the Earth was young, had been declining steadily across the aeons until they had almost reached the point at which plants can no longer survive, which is 150 parts per million (ppm).  The reduction in concentration had actually reached 180 ppm. 

            Fortunately for us, melting ice and other factors at the end of the last glaciation raised the level back up to 280 ppm which is roughly where it was when industrialisation began in earnest in the 19th century and human activity began contributing to a small increase in atmospheric CO2.  Currently, the level is at 415 ppm, or 0.0415% of the Earth’s atmosphere, which is such a minimal amount that climate scientists call it a ‘trace element.’  Far from being a danger to the planet, this is a highly beneficial concentration which is helping to bring about a clearly proven ‘greening’ of the Earth.  Just as animal life depends on oxygen, so plant life depends on carbon dioxide – and the more the merrier.  The botanical world could easily tolerate, and would benefit enormously, from an atmosphere with 1200 ppm or more of CO2 – as it was during the Carboniferous Period when the lush vegetation which became coal was steadily removing CO2 from the atmosphere; growing, dying, accumulating, being compressed, then stored for millions of years; until humans began using it for fuel and, in a life-saving process, began returning CO2 to the atmosphere, whence it came in the first place.  The bottom line here is that human beings are “life’s salvation, not its destroyers” (p.41).

            The chapter includes a discussion of the misnamed ‘greenhouse effect’ which is just as important to life on Earth as CO2, and equally falsely blamed for imaginary disasters to come.  “Life would never likely have existed without the greenhouse effect.  And yet the climate alarmists refer to greenhouse gasses such as CO2 and CH4 as ‘pollution.’” (p.50).  CH4 is actually the valuable aerial trace element methane which, despite its minuscule presence, makes a not insignificant contribution to our presence on Earth.  Flatulent cows should not be made the object of an alarmist pogrom, but rather be worshipped, as they are in India, though not for the same reason!

            Another important fact described in the chapter is that global warming – or cooling – only happens in the northern and southern hemispheres.  The tropics remain largely unchanged.

            While discussing climate predictions, Dr Moore points out that many “are based on simulations, which are computer-generated models created by authors who decide what they want their model to predict and then build assumptions into the model that provide them with the results they [want]…. [it] has nothing to do with real science, which is about observing real situations in the real world ….” (p.33).  In other words, we should be very wary of climate predictions derived from computer simulations.

            Dr Moore also highlights a common evasive tactic employed by alarmists – the claim that there is an ‘overwhelming consensus among scientists’ often put at 97%; or that ‘the science is settled.’  Dr Moore states in contrast that these (highly dubious) assertions say nothing about whether what is being asserted is true, and goes on to say, ‘“Consensus’ is actually not a valid scientific term.  It is a social and political term having to do with agreement on policies….”  He quotes the late Michael Crichton:  “If it’s consensus, it isn’t science.  If it’s science, it isn’t consensus” (p.36). 

            In fact, citing a consensus of scientists or the IPCC (as government ministers are prone to do) are logically invalid arguments; they commit the fallacy of argumentum ad vericundiam, or ‘appealing to authority.’  Such arguments establish nothing about the truth of what is alleged, as Dr Moore noted.  They merely pass the buck in a singularly cowardly fashion.

            The other chapters of the book tear to pieces ten more myths, the majority connected with alleged dangers from the small but genuinely beneficial human contribution to atmospheric CO2.  Chapter One rips apart a claim that “Africa’s oldest boabab trees are dying at an unprecedented rate, and climate change may be to blame” (pp.15-18).  Moore stresses that no evidence is provided for the assertion, which turns out to be no more than a totally unscientific guess by a journalist, and no more newsworthy than the indubitable fact that older trees, like older animals, die of old age.  Dr Moore began his book with this story because it demonstrates very effectively his thesis that remoteness is one of the factors that environmental alarmism depends on.  How many of us have seen a boabab tree, or know anything about its life cycle?

            Chapter Two concerns a more serious example of ‘remoteness trading’ – coral reefs.  The chapter explains in a concise fashion how coral reefs are formed; where they thrive and why, and accounts for the phenomenon of ‘bleaching’ which alarmists maintain is the fate of all corals, due to man-made warming of the oceans.  It turns out that bleaching is a relatively rare, local occurrence, seldom fatal, and usually short-lived.  More significantly, since corals thrive best in warm seawater they would welcome warmer oceans.

            Later chapters cover the threatened extinction of polar bears (whose numbers are actually rising to the extent of becoming a menace to the Inuit peoples of Arctic Canada); assertions that millions of species face extinction (nonsense); a claim that the Pacific Ocean contains a vast garbage patch of plastic (completely untrue, it does not); another that genetically modified food is harmful (a blatant lie); and that we should fear nuclear power (bunkum, it’s our future.  Danger?  You’re a million times more likely to die in a road accident [p.153]). 

            Other topics addressed are the causes of forest fires (mismanagement through ‘green’ policies); ocean acidification (imaginary), and mass walrus deaths due to global warming melting Arctic ice sheets (no!  Due to polar bear attacks on rapidly growing populations of this protected species!).  All the above are shown to be fabrications based on ignorance of genuine climate science; ignorance of geology and of climate history (paleoclimatology); one-sided, false, or incomplete reporting; disregard of counter evidence; and misrepresentation, gross exaggeration, or outright falsehoods.  It really is a shameful record.

            One of the more shocking episodes recounted is the assault by Greenpeace – which, as we saw, Dr Moore co-founded – on genetically-modified, life-saving, Vitamin A-enriched Golden Rice.  He and some new colleagues were actually led to accuse Greenpeace of a “Crime against Humanity” (p.141) during a campaign for Golden Rice adoption by poor, rice-dependent countries.  “While the ‘green’ left calls for socialism and redistribution of wealth, they are fighting against a cure for the very poorest people in the world … one cup of Golden Rice per day could save millions of them from blindness and eventual death.  They die quietly and unnoticed” (p.144).

            Another shocker is deliberate falsification or misrepresentation of evidence by the world-famous Sir David Attenborough, towards whom Dr Moore throws down this gauntlet:  “I personally challenge Sir Attenborough (sic) to dispute the points presented herein regarding seabirds, plastic, walruses and polar bears.  I look forward to his rebuttal” (p.204).  One wonders whether a response will be forthcoming.

            A prodigious amount of work went into this book, which is very well-illustrated and jam-packed with information, much of it not mentioned in this report, such as the Milankovitch Cycles, which throw light on the real causes of historic changes in climate (pp. 67-9); libellous use of the word ‘denier’ (p.12 & passim), and failure to consider the social and economic consequences of government policies. 

            From a literary point of view, it must be added that the quotations used to illuminate points are very well chosen, be they from friend or foe.  Since climate alarmism is entirely built on predictions, my favourites were:  “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible” – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, May 2018 (p.51); and, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future” – 1922 Nobel Prize for Physics winner Niels Bohr (p.53).

            While faultless 95% of the time, Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom is not without flaws.  One is delayed or missing explanations of two vital pieces of evidence:  core samples from ice sheets, and from ocean sediments.  These yield huge amounts of information about the history of Earth’s climate but, while Dr Moore rests much of his case on them, he doesn’t explain how the information is actually extracted nor why we should place such confidence in it.  He says on page 41, “Marine sediment core samples … go back hundreds of millions of years and the sediment does not lie.”  I’m sure he’s right, but I also learned at university that the Earth’s crust has gone through incredible contortions during its long history and that many sedimentary deposits have been folded, twisted or otherwise displaced.  Movement of present-day tectonic plates shows that this is still happening.  Some confirmation that the core samples he uses as evidence have not been affected by crust movement would be reassuring.

            A similar objection might be made when Dr Moore examines the genetic modification of foodstuffs (Chapter Seven).  Clear proof of GM’s safety presented earlier would make his discussion more persuasive, although he does make several telling points; e.g., that genetic modification takes place naturally and that we ourselves – each and every one of us – are created by genetic modification.

             There are a few other minor glitches, and an index would have been helpful, but enough of quibbles.  Patrick Moore has written a very timely and very important book.  In my opinion, panic stricken politicians such as Joe Biden and Boris Johnson should be locked up in solitary confinement until they have read Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom and thereafter demonstrated a full understanding that their goals of zero emissions of CO2; of banning petrol and diesel from motor vehicles, and of smothering the landscape with ugly, very expensive, short-lived, and highly unreliable energy sources – windmills and solar panels – are both fatuous and entirely unnecessary.

            The arch sceptic Karl Popper was fond of saying, “we never know what we are talking about.”  He also remarked, “Now a little debunking may do us a lot of good.”  Patrick Moore has demonstrated time and again throughout this book that Popper – though often wrong elsewhere –  was right on the button with climate doomsayers, who emphatically do not know what they are talking about.  Let’s hope Dr Moore’s debunking of their myths, misinformation and lies will do them a lot of good.  I doubt it will, too many reputations and research grants are at stake.  But if we can persuade enough open-minded, educated adults (i.e. voters)to read Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom that alone might end up doing the rest of us a lot of good indeed.

Postscript

A discussion of the ‘climategate’ controversy and the infamous ‘hockey stick’ graph – showing a dramatic increase in global temperatures – would be a welcome addition to the book, should Dr Moore decide on a new edition, especially after the BBC’s heavily biased, October 2021 documentary on the subject.  The BBC Four film made no mention of computer modelling, nor of ice and ocean sediment cores; and the only reference to the beneficial effects of COlasted about three seconds.  Michael Mann’s hockey stick, which the programme set out to vindicate, may be factually correct to some degree but it only covers a thousand years, a mere blink in geological time.  Dr Moore’s work covers millions of years, and shows that the Earth is currently in an ‘interglacial period’ – and is thus very likely to get much colder!

“Climate Change” – An Austro-Libertarian Analysis


“Climate Change” – An Austro-Libertarian Analysis

By Duncan Whitmore

In my most recent essay posted on this blog, we noted that the COVID-19 hysteria is giving way to a ramping up of climate alarmism of the kind on full display at the recent United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow (“COP26”). (Or at least it was until the so-called “Omicron” variant ignited a fresh wave of viral panic).

Needless to say, like most of those who value prosperity and freedom, I do not waiver from the view that the trumpeted calls for “action” to abate human-induced climate change (once known as “global warming”) are scarcely concerned with protecting the planet as such; rather, they are little more than a ruse to expand state control over industry and lifestyle choices, a convenient excuse that has become more prominent since the economic case for such expansion died along with Soviet communism. In a handful of previous essays, I have outlined both the fundamental misanthropy of the environmental movement and the epistemological errors of what passes for “The Science”, in addition to demolishing the underlying, Malthusian myth that human overpopulation is driving us to the brink of disaster.

However, much of what else could be said with regards to the facts of climate change has been said elsewhere, and in a way better than what I could reproduce here. Thus, to do something different, we will look not at whether human-induced climate change (through carbon dioxide emissions or whatever) is happening. Instead, let us take as our starting point the notion that is, indeed, happening – in other words, for the sake of argument, let us concede absolutely every climate related disaster for which eco-fanatics claim human industry and prosperity is responsible. Is there anything within libertarian theory that would grant anyone the right to curb industry and private decision making in the manner in which states are seeking to do?

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COVID Follow-ups: The Four Countries of the UK


By Neil Lock

It’s been a few months since I last looked at COVID statistics. This time, I thought, I’ll get the figures for the four constituent countries of the UK, and present them against each other for comparison. I chose to look at cases, deaths and lockdowns, and to leave testing and vaccinations for later.

This exercise may also help to give some insights into the effectiveness, or otherwise, of various lockdown measures. This is because, for the last four to five months, England has been under a significantly lighter lockdown régime than Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Update, December 2nd: This is no longer the case, at least as far as face masks are concerned. See here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/measures-against-omicron-variant-come-into-effect-30-november-2021. All this, so we are told, is due to a new variant, of which there have been a total of 22 cases in England and Scotland up to November 30th, compared with a UK new case count that day of almost 40,000. Yet again, the political class are missing no possible excuse to violate our rights and freedoms, even without any proven evidence. But, as I’ll explain towards the end, I think they’re going to find it hard to get away with this one.

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Central Bank Digital Currencies – A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?


Central Bank Digital Currencies – A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

By Duncan Whitmore

The past twenty months or so of COVID hysteria have seen a rapid increase in the destruction of what remains of Western liberty. Those controlling the present political and economic order are desperate to steer us out of its irreversible demise into a replacement system in which their own power, control and wealth will be maintained. Regardless of whether one regards the emergence of COVID-19 as a planned event or merely an opportune occurrence, there is now little room for believing that public health is the primary motivation behind the smorgasbord of lockdowns, restrictions, vaccine mandates and COVID passports. We are being herded into a digital straitjacket of regimentation and control, a process, which, if left unchecked, could see state/corporate surveillance monitoring our every waking thought, movement, purchase, utterance and association.

However, as readers of my work during this time may recall, I have always doubted the ability of the COVID panic to accomplish all of this in one go, if only because people expect pandemics to wane after a year or two. Thus, unlike the bogeymen of yesteryear – Soviet communism and Islamic terrorism – viruses are difficult to paint as a permanent threat necessitating an ongoing sacrifice of freedoms in exchange for security. At the beginning of this year we suggested that governments would eventually begin to haemorrhage public trust over their policies on vaccines and restrictions. The reason this has come to pass is not merely the mission creep of shifting goalposts or the haphazard instatement, dropping and re-instatement of measures left, right and centre. Rather, it’s that governments are trying to square the circle by selling vaccines as a golden ticket back to freedom on the one hand, while, on the other, demanding that we suffer repeated “booster shots”, vaccine mandates and vaccine passports – all of which suggest that vaccines don’t actually work that well in the first place. Indeed, governments are having to admit as much when justifying these additional measures. Moreover, if restrictions are re-imposed regardless of vaccination status, or if “booster shot” requirements cause one to slip in and out of the category of “fully vaccinated”, governments themselves simply annul any propaganda aimed at blaming the whole saga on “the unvaccinated”. Thus, the notion of there being some other agenda of permanent regimentation and control has seeped into the public psyche. All of this is comes in spite of the fact that governments have, thus far, managed to prevent the possible extent of vaccine injuries from being examined in the full light of day.

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