The People’s Climate March: What’s It All About?

The “People’s Climate March” is underway in New York City, with coordinated events occurring in other locations. Tom Steyer, who abandoned an honest career as a coal magnate to become a “green” scammer, thinks the march shows how important climate is a political issue:

I think the point of this is to show that this has widespread support, that it is a first-tier political issue, that the ability to sweep this under the rug is over.

But public opinion surveys consistently place “climate change” at the bottom of Americans’ political priorities, presumably because most people have enough common sense to realize that giving the government more money and power won’t change the weather.

As for the People’s Climate March, this tweet probably gives more insight into what it is really all about:

Climatistas Can’t Keep Their Story Straight

We take time out from the conformism of “the science is settled” (because 97 percent!) to remind everyone to do their good deed and plant a tree for the planet. Except—what’s this? Planting trees might not be good for the planet? That’s the argument that appeared yesterday in the New York Times from Yale chemist Nadine Unger. Yup: the article is “To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees.”

Start oiling up your chainsaw, because:

Deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide. The assumption is that planting trees and avoiding further deforestation provides a convenient carbon capture and storage facility on the land.

That is the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom is wrong.

In reality, the cycling of carbon, energy and water between the land and the atmosphere is much more complex. Considering all the interactions, large-scale increases in forest cover can actually make global warming worse.

Complex, you say? Maybe we don’t understand the phenomenon fully? But 97 percent!

Anyway, to continue:

In order to grow food, humans have changed about 50 percent of the earth’s surface area from native forests and grasslands to crops, pasture and wood harvest. Unfortunately, there is no scientific consensus on whether this land use has caused overall global warming or cooling. Since we don’t know that, we can’t reliably predict whether large-scale forestation would help to control the earth’s rising temperatures. . . (Emphasis added.)

The science says that spending precious dollars for climate change mitigation on forestry is high-risk: We don’t know that it would cool the planet, and we have good reason to fear it might have precisely the opposite effect. More funding for forestry might seem like a tempting easy win for the world leaders at the United Nations, but it’s a bad bet.

I say we better chop down a lot of trees just to be safe. Precautionary principle and all that.

The Roosevelts: A hagiography

When writer Mark Gauvreau Judge was repeatedly invited to review Ken Burns’s 10-part, 18-and-a-half hour documentary on the history of jazz in 2000, his response was always the same: “I don’t need to see it to write a review. It’s Ken Burns, hippie granola-head and king of the documentary-melodrama, which means we’re in for yet another race-obsessed orgy of political correctness.” (In retrospect, Judge concedes, he was only “half-right.”)

With slight variation necessitated by the differing subject matter, I think Judge’s critique applies almost perfectly to Burns’s current offering, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, written by Burns’s long-time collaborator (and Roosevelt biographer) Geoffrey Ward. And Judge would have been all right, not half-right.

The series can be streamed online here. Part 7 of the 14-hour documentary aired last night. At long last it was over. I’m pasting in the video of Part 5 (1933-1939) so interested readers can easily take a look for themselves.

The documentary covered the lives of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt in what I found to be the predictably insufferable fashion Judge would have anticipated. Though Franklin Roosevelt died nearly 70 years ago, Burns’s work is not for those in search of cool judgment or historical detachment. The series was a love letter to Progressives, Democrats, and liberals. Part 7 traced FDR’s political heritage to Barack Obama, of course, which means it’s a good thing FDR was good in all his works.

The timing of the series is interesting. Arriving six weeks in advance of the midterm elections, the series allowed PBS to make its in-kind contribution to the Democrats in a big way this year. Those looking for historical detachment or impartial judgment or simply a balanced perspective had best look elsewhere.

The Roosevelts have given rise to a critical literature that is of great assistance in raising issues and rendering judgment beyond hagiography. We did not hear from Amity Shlaes, for example, in the series’ 14 hours (or Jean Yarbrough, or Gene Smiley, or Peter Collier, or Burt Folsom). George Will, whom we did hear from, did not fill the gap.

Having written a revisionist history of the Great Depression in which FDR is not the hero, Amity Shlaes was too hot to handle. Amity takes a critical look at the series, however, in the NRO column “Progressives enthroned.”

The Roosevelts leaves us in the realm of hagiography. Seventy years after FDR’s death, it is apparently too soon to ask Burns et al. to strive for a balanced perspective on the Roosevelts. My mom was a teen-age girl who cried when she heard that FDR had died; Ken Burns essentially wants his viewers to retain the perspective of a teen-age girl circa 1945 on the Roosevelts. This is “history” for wide-eyed innocents.

Among the (mostly) positive assessments of the series are reviews by Neal Genzlinger in the New York Times, Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times, and Mason Williams in the New Republic.

Interviewing Burns for a feature occasioned by the documentary, the Wall Street Journal asked what president from our history we would elect today. Burns responded with this mindless takedown of the American people: “I think we could perpetually elect the Warren G. Hardings of the world, not asking the essential questions about honesty and whatever, because they looked the part—they’re out of central casting. And our greatest presidents, thankfully, are not out of central casting. They’re actually themselves.” Burns’s disparagement of the American people certainly applies to our election of the current occupant of the Oval Office, but you can bet that is not what he has in mind with his pseudosophistication that achieves vapid left-wing stupidity.

Tim Howard still saves

European soccer returned to Goodison Park this week after an absence of more than four years. Everton celebrated with a 4-1 victory over the German side Wolfsburg in a Europa League match.

The score flattered Everton. It was achieved on the strength of Tim Howard, the U.S. goalkeeper whose performance in the World Cup had some liberals lobbying to rename Ronald Reagan Airport after him.

In his signature match against Belgium, Howard saved 16 shots (if memory serves) in 120 minutes. Against Wolfsburg, he was credited with 12 saves in 90 minutes, at least four of which were from the top drawer.

Several of Howard’s saves on Thursday came at the expense of Kevin De Bruyne. Howard also victimized De Bruyne in the Belgium match, though the blond winger scored in extra time.

Two other attackers who played for Belgium against the U.S. — Romulu Lukaku (who scored Belgium’s other goal) and Kevin Mirallas — were on Howard’s side in the Wolfsburg match. Mirallas scored one and was involved in creating another. Other than Howard, he was arguably our best player on the night. Lukaku was less impressive, but had his moments.

Everton is playing dynamic, attacking soccer under Roberto Martinez. But we need to tighten up the defense. Tim Howard can’t bail us out of every match, as we saw when Chelsea put six past him a few weeks ago.

Chuck Hagel piles on the NFL

CNN reports that Chuck Hagel has asked his staff for detailed information about the U.S. military’s relationships with the National Football League in the wake of the controversy over how the league is handling domestic-abuse allegations against players. With the U.S. supposedly ramping for a war against ISIS, you would think that Hagel has better things to worry about. But politically correct posturing is always a priority for Team Obama.

Hagel presides over a military in which sexual harassment reportedly is rampant. As the employer, the Defense Department is legally responsible for providing its personnel with a harassment-free work place. The NFL has no legal responsibility for domestic abuse committed by players outside of work.

You might think, then, that the Defense Department would not throw the first stone, but things don’t work that way nowadays. Piling on the NFL is a cheap way for Hagel to show his bona fides as a friend of women while diverting attention from allegations that the military mistreats women.

As for the military’s relationship with the NFL, it is well worth preserving. The military advertises on NFL broadcasts. Given the NFL’s enormous viewership among young American males, this is an excellent recruiting method for our all-volunteer military. Should the military abandon this method because Ray Rice initially received only a two game suspension? That would be biting its nose to spite its face.

The military also broadcasts NFL games to troops stationed overseas. Should it deprive troops of this pleasure over after-the-fact displeasure with a League disciplinary policy that has been changed? Of course not.

According to CNN, the Army and the NFL share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue both for wounded troops and football players. Even Chuck Hagel isn’t dense enough to end this relationship.

NFL players visit military bases to encourage children to be active for at least 60 minutes a day to help prevent childhood obesity. I doubt that Hagel will want to cancel this program. What would Michelle Obama say?

The NFL can’t tell Chuck Hagel to pound sand, but that would be the appropriate response. That, plus a 15-yard penalty for piling on.

Harry Reid on Immigration: Busted

Yes, I know, we really don’t need more evidence that Harry Reid gives a bad name to unprincipled opportunistic guttersnipes everywhere, but this one-minute video of Reid on immigration from the early 1990s, and more recently, gilds the point nicely: (more…)

Why Would Anyone Send His Daughter to College?

President Obama has announced another of his useless initiatives, the only purpose of which is to distract attention from the comprehensive failures of his administration. This one is intended to reduce sexual assault on college campuses. It is claimed that one in five women on college campuses is sexually assaulted–an absurd statistic if by “sexually assaulted” you mean sexually assaulted. Nevertheless, interested persons (politicians who want to talk about something other than the economy, immigration and foreign policy, and grievance hustlers who want money and power) repeat it endlessly.

In this parody video, Glenn Reynolds takes the one-in-five claim seriously. With that sort of risk, you would be crazy to send your daughter to college. What’s the alternative? Why, Reynolds Online University, of course! It’s the only responsible choice: