RF Kennedy jr is 50% wrong about the climate
Recently Jordan Peterson had the totally admirable RF Kennedy jr on his podcast and it was all marvelous (yet sad about the state of our politics) but predictably the climate was going to be a contemptuous issue between the two. As a lawyer specialized in environmental litigation Kennedy jr is used to roughly follow the scheme: poor powerless citizens battling large unethical profit oriented corporations. Peterson however has had pretty much all the great climate sceptics on his “couch” and is well up to speed on the fallacies of climate alarmism. So what can we learn from the “battle” between these great men?
The big pharma sponsored propaganda had clearly succeeded in me looking at RF Kennedy jr as a nutty anti-vaxxer. It was the covid-pandemic that made me study vaccines more (ending up not taking the jab) and further convinced me of the true evil of big pharma. So slowly but surely I began to love RFK jr. more and even his illness plagued voice. Especially so after he launched his book on the Faustian figure of Dr. Fauci. His presidential candidacy came so naturally then, and he seems so ready to take the institutions head on, that I on the spot shifted my support to a 2024 RFK jr. presidency.
And the climate? Well, seemingly he has drawn some great lessons from the covid-situation! He clearly sees the totalitarian element in the proposed climate solutions. He even sees, that if institutional science had gotten an issue like covid so wrong, that climate sceptics are dead right to be very weary of the climate orthodoxy. He sees that something like carbon capture and storage is a monstrous affair. He quotes FDR’s 1933 inaugural address: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, fully agreeing with Peterson that doomsday thinking will never lead to the right answers.
With these matters I already grant RFK to be 25% right on the climate. The remaining 25% he earns because he clearly advocates regenerative agriculture as a pivotal matter in the climate debate. YES IT IS.
Regenerative agriculture should be discussed whenever the climate is on the table! This is the “all gain, no pain” solution in contrast to the usual “all pain, no gain” so-called climate solutions. Generally I am for raising the carbon dioxide level to 1000 ppm to green the deserts but regardless of our desired CO2 concentration the way to level it off is to make the biosphere stuff it away in ever healthier soil. With all the benefits of more nutrient rich food and better hydrology. It is even highly suspicious when politicians never even mention such a fully natural solution to a problem and push monstrous non-alternatives like abolishing property, tourism and eating meat. Just like when a giant population wide genetic experiment got the benefit over ventilating rooms, taking zinc and vitamin D and doing more exercise during the pandemic.
So where is RF Kennedy jr 50% wrong?
Jordan Peterson opened the climate issue (at 59 minutes into the video) with “I was reluctant to speak with you about climate since I generally don’t give my guests a rough time”. But then he really didn’t give RFK jr. a rough time. Rather he let him slip through the mazes of the 50% right stuff described above. But RFK jr. did utter some really objectionable jabber and offered some gross falsehoods. Let’s start with the latter maybe:
- The Greenland ice sheet is not melting (nor is the Antarctic)
- The net temperature effect of CO2 in the atmosphere is not trivial high school physics, it is Einstein-level complex
- Children in the west have a much cleaner environment and richer nature than their parents did
- Warming over the last decades is a fact but not the attribution to CO2, that’s a hypothesis
- Children don’t start families due to gender changing toxics. Really??
- Save the whales? Whales have long been saved by our use of oil rather than whale oil.
- Where’s the climate crisis? When you see hell in Ukraine, where is the climate crisis?
RFK jr. displays a few very, very typical fallacies that he stepped into. Firstly he grants that he has NOT read the scientific literature on the climate as he does on the medical and environmental toxicology fronts. He kind of waves that away saying that warming by CO2 and methane is obviously simple high school physics and that in his own life he has clearly seen changes of vegetation and habitats of animals due to the warming. But NO! Precisely because he prides himself in having read all the relevant literature in his key areas of interest, he can’t wave that away. He should be honest and say: “I don’t even come close to having an opinion on climate as I do on vaccines and environmental (toxic) pollution.”
In his recantations of his nature experiences as a child and a young man there is certainly an element of “white privilege” there. His childhood memories almost sound like Alice or Alex in Wonderland. Living on an estate, with butterflies abounding in the gardens. And as a young man spending three months in a tent with Roger Ailes in East-Africa? I’ve never even been to Africa in my life except Morocco and Egypt. And his own children will never see as many butterflies? I’m afraid he should then spend a bit less time on litigation and more on gardening. Any hobby gardener can tell you that attracting butterflies just takes some good horticulture.
To Dutch children in 2023 I always say: you live in a perfectly clean environment; The Netherlands is a clean place. When I was young in the 70’s:
- The soil was polluted
- The air was polluted
- The water was polluted
- There was lead in gasoline
- Cars had no catalysts
- Energy plants in the East Bloc still had no filters
- People still threw plastic and empty batteries out the car window
- There were no salmon in the big rivers due to dams and heavy metals
- There were few birds of prey
- There were no storchs
- There were no beavers
- There were not as many seals
- There certainly were no wolves! (and now there’s a debate to shoot them)
- Etc etc
Exactly following the theory of the environmental Kuznets curve, after getting rich, countries clean up and clean up fast. Maybe that in the American rougher capitalist system with their corporate captured politics, there are more remaining cases of toxic spills for a guy like RFK to litigate, than there are in Europe, but claiming that our current time is heavier polluted and has less biodiversity than the period from the onset of industrialisation (and monoculture agriculture) to say the year 2000 is really untruthful. Children should learn in school how good we are for nature and the environment and how clean everything has become.
Cat out of the bag
Maybe RFK let his cat out of the bag when he braggingly said that he was there when it was found out that Exxon had employed top scientists to learn about the climate early on. A fact that has led to lawsuits against oil companies just like those against the tobacco companies who had early knowledge about the harm of cigarette smoking. THIS PROVES NOTHING. This only proves that there once was a time when good democrats were a priori sceptical of big corporations. What were climate scientists to do when a company like Exxon hired them between 1977 and 2003 to look into the greenhouse effect? This was the time when the earth entered the current warming phase, after scientists had predicted a coming anthropogenic ice age in the ten years prior (in the case of the late Stephen Schneider it was the same person who warned us first for ice and then for heat).
Is there any reason to believe that scientists in those days were less leftist than today? No. Probably they went in as lefties who were proud and baffled at the same time to get such private contracts from big oil. Was the earth warming at the time? Definitely! Was there a greenhouse gas hypothesis? Definitely. Were there computers to do some modelling? Definitely. Were there printers and later color printers to draw bold graphs and maps of an apocalyptic future? Personally I was working in climate research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when they had their first Apple color laser printers. Awesome!
So what does it prove? What in the hell does it prove that those scientists told Exxon: CO2 might lead to warming and probably it already does. What I know from Daniel Yergin’s brilliant book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power is that in the oil industry the “conditions above ground” where always more important than the “conditions under ground”. Ergo: there is always plenty of oil to be found, but how can we fool people into believing that it’s scarce or otherwise unavailable to keep the price up. Conditions above ground would typically be wars or cartel negotiations. And a climate scare maybe?
I’m not suggesting that big oil conspired to instill us with a fear of climate disaster, but I would maintain that they were kind of indifferent to the outcome. They just wanted to be in the loop early on and then even feed the hype through organisations like the Rockefeller Foundation. To them the climate activists are a kind of controlled opposition, knowing that the world is addicted to oil anyway. For climate alarmists 80% of oil reserves need to stay in the ground forever. What does that do to the price of oil? What incentive does big oil have to counter that? Especially knowing that the coal industry suffers more from the climate hype than the oil industry. Once the adagium was: coal for electricity, oil for transportation and gas for chemistry. Under the climate hoax that has become: no coal under any circumstances (except in pragmatic China and in clownsworld Germany), high priced oil for transportation and valuable gas stupidly as backup for wind and solar. In that sense it was hopeful when downunder a coal backed climate sceptic Tony Abbott became prime minister. But it wouldn’t last.
So RFK tells us nothing that proves that the observed warming is not a natural cycle (which it probably is especially since the discovery of the PDO in 1997) and he says nothing that proves, that even if it is anthropogenic, it is a crisis at all. Still having no wine production in England and no green Greenland as we had it in the middle ages, warming could be a boon for all that matters. He lumps the climate in with his medical and toxicological battles with big business and sticks to the socialist, progressive hatred of all things billionaire and Rockefeller. While he should do what he does on almost all other issues: study, read, think hard, study, read, think hard ad infinitum. He knows so much, he has such a rich life (a pity Peterson didn’t ask him a bit more about what it means to be a “prince Kennedy”), that he should stick to Socrates’ adagium of knowing what he doesn’t know.
Ergo: RFK jr. hasn’t immersed himself in the climate science as Peterson has. But he still gets a pass since he rejects totalitarian solutions outright and he brings up REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE!
PS RFK jr. borders a bit on the nutty when he claims that our current declining birthrate would be due to the gender altering properties of certain chemicals in the environment. Especially knowing that the most obvious case of fish and frog gender altering hormones in the environment is caused by women taking the anti-conception pill and flushing that down the toilet (whilst not having that pill at all, would immediately lead to “peak fertility” in women and maybe we could abolish abortion?). Look it up in the book The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don’t Want You to Know About–Because They Helped Cause Them. I will say outright that I haven’t studied the matter deeply, but as personal anecdote I certainly know dozens of women who use the climate argument as a reason not to take up parenting (and go through labor) in the first place. I know one who has chosen early sterilization. I know dozens of children who are maybe not clinically depressed, but are totally depressed about the state of nature and the future of the planet. It is really, really obvious.
RFK jr sounds much like the man with the hammer here to whom every problem is a nail. So … nose out of the books, get away from environmental litigation, open your eyes and ears, go be president, stop the war in Ukraine, open the books on the killings of your father and uncle and save the world. Yes, fight big food and big pharma and end the public health crisis etc etc. And put a good climate sceptic on that issue.
I’m dutch, so no vote, but my heart is with RFK jr!