Friday, November 20, 2020

'We do not deny climate change': Rupert Murdoch addresses son's exit from board

He says only that disasters are "consistent with" climate change

Rupert Murdoch has made his first public comments about the abrupt resignation of his son James Murdoch from News Corp's board, rejecting assertions the company denies climate change or that he did not consider his son's point of view.

News Corp, owner of The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun, was criticised by James Murdoch and James's wife Kathryn Hufschmid in January for promoting climate denialism after the global media empire's coverage of Australia's bushfire crisis gained global attention and scrutiny. James decided in August to quit the board of directors after years of unease about its editorial direction.

At the company's annual general meeting on Thursday morning (AEDT), Mr Murdoch was asked why he did not accommodate some of James Murdoch's views on climate change and on US President Donald Trump. James Murdoch has long been seen to have more progressive political views than his family and was critical of Trump in a New York Times interview in October.

"Our board has many discussions, but James ... claims that our papers have covered the bushfires in Australia without discussing climate change. We do not deny climate change, we are not deniers," Mr Murdoch said.

Mr Murdoch's comments are the latest to address the topic of climate change and the way News Corp mastheads approach it. The debate was ignited in January by former News Corp finance manager Emily Townsend, who sent an email to all employees accusing her employer of spreading a "misinformation campaign" on climate change that was "dangerous" and "unconscionable". James went public with his perspective on the matter days later.

But News Corp has run other pieces that have questioned the legitimacy of widely-accepted climate change science over the past decade.

Columns by Melbourne writer Andrew Bolt and Sky commentator (and The Australian Financial Review columnist) Rowan Dean in the tabloids and former ASX chairman Maurice Newman in The Australian have described climate change as a "cult" and "a socialist plot". In a broadcast on News Corp-owned Sky News, Bolt criticised the "constant stream of propaganda" on the ABC about the climate crisis.

In a clip which has subsequently gone viral, Malcolm Turnbull chastises Paul Kelly, head writer from The Australian about bias in climate-related stories.

A News Corp spokesperson tried to defuse the situation by arguing that, of the 3335 bushfire related stories by The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser between September 1, 2019 and January 23, 2020, 3.4 per cent mentioned the words "arson or "arsonists".

"The facts demonstrate starkly the falsity of Mr Turnbull's claim," a News Corp spokesman said.

"In this same period, also published more than 300 bushfire stories, of which only 16 mentioned arson, equivalent to 5 per cent," the spokesman said. "Not one of these small number of stories stated the bushfires were 'all the consequence' of arsonists."

An editorial in The Australian on November 13 said the newspaper published a wide range of views on bushfire-related issues such as land clearing, backburning, drought, climate change and building regulations.

"Arsonists were a small part of the story. By January 7 this year, police had arrested 183 people for lighting bushfires across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania," the article said. "As we editorialised on January 10: 'The evidence of global warming since the Industrial Revolution is clear. More intense fires are an observed reality consistent with the predictions of climate change science.'"

The Climate Hustle


I hear that climate change will destroy much of the world. “There will be irreversible damage to the planet!” warns a CNN anchor.

Joe Biden says he’ll spend $500 billion a year to fight what his website calls an “existential threat to life.”


I’m a consumer reporter. Over the years, alarmed scientists have passionately warned me about many things that they thought were about to kill Americans.

“Asbestos in hair dryers, coffee, computer terminals, electric power lines, microwave ovens, cell phones (brain tumors!), electric blankets, computer terminals, herbicides, plastic residue, etc. are causing America’s cancer epidemic!”

If those things don’t get us, “West Nile Virus will!” Or SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, flesh-eating bacteria or “killer bees.”

Experts told me millions would die on Jan. 1, 2000, because computers couldn’t handle the switch from 1999. Machines would fail; planes would crash.

The scientists were well-informed specialists in their fields. They were sincerely alarmed. The more knowledge you have about a threat, the more alarmed you get.

Yet, mass death didn’t happen. COVID-19 has been the only time in my 50 years of reporting that a scare proved true.

Maybe you accepted the phrase I used above: “America’s cancer epidemic.” But there is no cancer epidemic. Cancer rates are down. We simply live long enough to get diseases like cancer. But people think there’s a cancer epidemic.

The opposite is true. As we’ve been exposed to more plastics, pesticides, mysterious chemicals, food additives and new technologies, we live longer than ever!

That’s why I’m skeptical when I’m told: Climate change is a crisis! Climate change is real. It’s a problem, but I doubt that it’s “an existential threat.”

Saying that makes alarmists mad. When Marc Morano says it, activists try to prevent him from speaking.

“They do not want dissent,” says Morano, founder of, a website that rebuts much of what climate activists teach in schools. “It’s an indoctrination that’s so complete that by the time (kids) get to high school, they’re not even aware that there’s any scientific dissent.”

Morano’s new movie, “Climate Hustle 2,” presents that dissent. My new video this week features his movie.

Morano argues that politicians use fear of global warming in order to gain power.

“Climate Hustle 2” features Senator Chuck Schumer shouting: “If we would do more on climate change, we’d have fewer of these hurricanes and other types of storms! Everyone knows that!”

But everyone doesn’t know that. Many scientists refute it. Congress’ own hearings include testimony about how our warmer climate has not caused increases in the number of hurricanes or tornadoes. “Climate Hustle 2” includes many examples like that.

“Why should we believe you?” I ask Morano. “You’re getting money from the fossil fuel industry.” After all, Daily Kos calls him “Evil Personified” and says ExxonMobil funds him.

“Not at all,” he replies. “I’m paid by about 90% individual contributions from around the country. Why would ExxonMobil give me money (when) they want to appear green?”

Morano’s movie frustrates climate activists by pointing out how hypocritical some are.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio says he lives a “green lifestyle… (using) energy-efficient appliances. I drive a hybrid car.” Then he flies to Europe to attend a party.

I like watching Morano point out celebrities’ hypocrisy, but think one claim in his movie goes too far.

“Stopping climate change is not about saving the planet,” says narrator Kevin Sorbo. “It’s about climate elites trying to convince us to accept a future where they call all the shots.”

I push back at Morano: “I think they are genuinely concerned, and they want to save us.”

“Their vision of saving us is putting them in charge,” he replies. And if they’re in charge, he says, they will destroy capitalism.

EPA transparency

Ballot harvesting, behind-the-curtains ballot counting and other hijinks have made transparency a critical issue this election year.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrates its fiftieth birthday, political battles continue to rage over the extent of public, executive and congressional oversight, and access to research files, original data and other information used by the agency in taking legal actions against individuals, institutions and businesses. The latest salvos involve the first-ever “transparency” requirements for EPA guidance documents – requirements likely to be tossed out by a Biden Administration.

In October 2019, President Trump signed an executive order to curb what he called abuses of authority by unaccountable bureaucrats who were “imposing their private agendas” on Americans. “A permanent federal bureaucracy,” he observed, “cannot become a fourth branch of government unanswerable to American voters.” Nor should federal agencies be able to impose multi-billion-dollar regulations, while claiming studies used to justify them are proprietary, confidential or otherwise inaccessible.

This February, the EPA launched a new searchable portal to provide public access to agency guidance documents. When it was finalized in July, the EPA brought over 9,000 guidance documents out of the darkness and made the entire active guidance library available to the public for the first time.

in September, the EPA finalized a rule that significantly increases the transparency of guidance practices and amends the agency’s process for managing guidance documents. The rule establishes the first formal public petition process for asking the EPA to modify, withdraw or reinstate a guidance document.

You would think “transparency” would be universally practiced and praised. However, the Deep State, science establishment, activist and pressure groups, and Democratic Party politicians have been horrified. Some claimed the rule reveals and distorts EPA’s decision-making processes. Others said it risks exposing private medical data and other confidential information. Still others carped that the rule is a bad-faith ploy to hamstring the agency’s ability to regulate industries and individuals.

Indeed, last October, an unsigned article in Wired magazine (we can’t even have author transparency) claimed the regulation was a Zombie-like attempt to resurrect the Secret Science Reform Act. Horrors!

The proposed legislation merely attempted to end the EPA’s widespread practice of basing regulations and guidance on research whose details remain hidden behind confidentiality agreements and are not publicly accessible, and whose research data cannot be replicated or independently verified.

During Congressional hearings on the proposal, critics claimed transparency would force the EPA to exclude important studies to protect confidentiality agreements. found that private data sometimes cannot be redacted. But it also acknowledged that the rule allows the EPA administrator to exempt regulations if releasing study data publicly (rarely) does conflict with protecting privacy. It also allows for alternatives to complete public release if the data actually include confidential information.

One of the most scandalous cases of regulatory secrecy (and presidential secrecy) involved the acid rain provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. President Bush and the EPA suppressed the findings of the 10-year, $537 million National Acid Rain Assessment Program (NAPAP), which had been authorized by President Carter.

To gain public support for the legislation, EPA scientists conjured up scary scenarios, claiming that sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants combined with water in the air to form acid rain that polluted streams, lakes and rivers and damaged trees, wildlife and buildings. The NAPAP found that the acidity of a lake is determined as much (or more) by the acidity of local soil and vegetation as it is by acidic rain. The frightening scenarios were wildly exaggerated, to justify closing power plants.

Moreover, many of these lakes were historically acidic and fishless until around 1900, when logging removed the acid vegetation and made the soil slightly alkaline. After logging slowed to a halt (around 1915), the naturally acidic decaying vegetation built up again, and the lakes became acidic again. In many cases forests were also debilitated due to insects or drought – not acid rain.

Curiously, a 1991 paper by environmental law scholar Richard Lazarus argued that Congress should let EPA be more independent, while admitting that legislators and regulators alike “have rarely known the best way to respond to an environmental pollution problem at the time a statute was passed.” Lazarus further claimed, “Statutory prescription therefore is an especially risky endeavor [that] can lead to wasteful expenditures for pollution control and … to more, rather than less, environmental degradation.”

These realities, Lazarus argued, make congressional oversight problematical, especially because the scientific options proposed by regulators for solving pollution often conflict with the political interests of lawmakers. True. But what if the legislators’ science is corrupted by “dark money” and the perpetual quest for more agency funding? Or if the regulators’ science is corrupted or weaponized by White House or Deep State biases, agendas, censoring of certain views, or manipulation or fabrication of data?

(In a republic, at least theoretically, the political leadership is informed by a citizenry that has all the needed facts, and ultimately has the authority to decide whether or not to follow the particular scientific pathways favored by regulators. In a pure democracy, minority views can be deemed or made irrelevant.)

A 2018 CFACT report assessed the extent of the public information problem, noting that EPA regulations have the force of law and constitute 25% of all federal regulations. Congress often grants regulatory bodies immense power over how people and businesses may operate, without giving targeted entities even the same level of due process that the law affords to criminal defendants. We should expect that EPA expands these overly broad mandates even further.

Indeed, the CFACT report contends, federal bureaucrats, and EPA administrators in particular, determine “who gets a permit to operate, and who does not; what technologies a business must use; what lightbulbs are available for your homes; what gas we can buy; what chemicals can be used; where companies can mine; what local land use decisions will survive; and even where a pond can be built on private property.”

It concluded: “While the President has massive powers over war and peace, and sets the operating philosophy of federal agencies, the EPA Administrator has direct power over the business operations … and thus the economy … of the entire nation.”

In creating the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in 2010, the Democrat-controlled Congress gave its director broad powers and virtual immunity from political scrutiny – with more power than the President. The Supreme Court only narrowly recognized this as an unconstitutional grant of power to an unelected official. The EPA Administrator’s powers should be equally restrained.

In a second October 2019 executive order, President Trump required that agencies inform individuals of regulatory cases against them, acknowledge their responses, and educate businesses about new regulatory impacts. This order too should be non-controversial, but could well be axed by a President Biden.

Under current law, those whose livelihoods are assaulted by regulatory bodies can challenge an agency in court only after the agency has sullied their reputations and prosecuted their alleged noncompliance. Even then, the environmental defendant typically loses, because courts have mostly upheld the agencies if their decisions are “rational,” even if (absent long-sought transparency) the agency has concealed any or all of its “public” (but secret) data and records that do not support its “reasoning.”

Ultimately, the future of EPA transparency (and openness in all government) rides on the final outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. It’s fascinating how entities that set arbitrary and ever-changing standards for “acceptable” speech, favor crude protests over peaceful assemblies, and seek to curtail entire industries – also see no reason to inform the public of the rationale behind their politicized “scientific” decisions on issues from climate change to COVID to all manner of environmental regulation.

Via email

New-tech American Coal-fired Electricity for Africa: Clean Air, Indoors and Out

African Lives Matter Too

New study shows how American clean coal technology can increase access to electricity and cut deaths from indoor air pollution
Coalition of climate scientists and energy engineers calls on President Trump to “pardon” Africa by ending ban on U.S., World Bank support

Arlington, VA. The CO2 Coalition of 60 climate scientists and energy engineers today released a White Paper showing how American “high efficiency – low emissions” power plants can save lives in Africa. Only a third of Africans have access to electricity, and the World Health Organization estimates that 439,000 Africans die every year because they have to cook in their homes with wood and dried animal dung. According to a top researcher for the WHO, “having an open fire in your kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.”

New-tech American Coal-fired Electricity for Africa: Clean Air, Indoors and Out reports on a field visit and interviews at the “Ultra Super-Critical” John Turk coal-fired power plant that serves Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. The plant eliminates virtually all pollutants from its emissions.

The White Paper reviews ten challenges that the operation of such a plant would face in the African economic and political context, and calls on the U.S. government to support proposals by African governments to import the American technology. Under Obama-era policies that are based on computer models that project a future “climate crisis” from emissions of a non-polluting plant food, carbon dioxide, U.S. foreign aid agencies currently oppose coal-fired electrical generation in Africa.

As the White Paper shows, international energy agencies agree that Africa will continue to use its abundant, inexpensive coal for electricity for decades to come. Unless this American technology is exported, China will build the scores of new power plants without pollution controls.

CO2 Coalition chairman Dr. Patrick Moore welcomed the new paper and its proposals: “It is energy madness and carbon colonialism for the United States to block government financing and World Bank support for the very projects that African governments want, and can operate effectively. Access to electricity is a basic right, and the key to health and life expectancy in Africa. As the White Paper concludes, African lives matter, too.”

The principal researchers for the White Paper are the Honorable Kathleen Hartnett White, formerly Texas’ top pollution regulator as chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Dr. Caleb Stewart Rossiter, formerly a professor of statistics for public policy at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Hartnett White is a Senior Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a member of the CO2 Coalition. Rossiter is the executive director of the CO2 Coalition.

Hartnett White noted: “Electrical power is the central nervous system of a modern economy and modern life expectancy. Africa’s electricity deficit translates directly into its life-expectancy deficit of 15 years per person.” Rossiter added: “The scourge of indoor air pollution I’ve seen throughout Africa can be wiped out by universal electrification from coal-fired plants. With American ‘scrubbing’ technology, African governments can also fight another killer at the same time: outdoor air pollution. President Trump should pardon Africa before he leaves office by issuing an executive order reversing U.S. opposition to clean coal projects there.”




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