Mis“LEED”ing: Fact Versus Fiction for Green Buildings

How many times have we heard those worn-out taglines of ‘sustainability,’ ‘green is good,’ ‘triple bottom line,’ and ‘doing well by doing good?’  Study after study, report after report, and headline after headline.  All used to help justify products like electric vehicles and solar panels, as well as to defend related policy mandates, market protection, and subsidies.

Many of today’s largest markets and industries rely entirely on the ability of the expert class to continue to hoodwink consumers, taxpayers, and investors on the false need and an altered reality of certain products and standards.

Consider the case of green building design, specifically LEED-certified buildings.

For those unfamiliar with LEED, it stands for ‘leadership in energy and environmental design.’  It’s become all the rage in real estate these days, particularly for commercial and office space.  LEED-certified buildings enjoy an unchallenged reputation for better performance, accretive economics, and societal benefit.

That’s due in large part to an ocean of studies that posit LEED-certified buildings as superior to non-LEED-certified buildings in every imaginable way.

Creating the Need for LEED

A recent example is the October 2022 research report from real estate firm CBRE titled Green Is Good: The Enduring Rent Premium of LEED-Certified U.S. Office Buildings.

The title is an eco-marketing thing of beauty; a rich, concentrated trove of all the gimmicky tricks.  Employ an obligatory worn-out tagline (‘green is good’)?  Check.  Inject an aura of economic legitimacy (‘rent premium’)?  Check.  Infer a longevity that exceeds the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere (‘enduring’)?  Check.

The executive summary doesn’t disappoint. It begins by boldly stating that an analysis of 20,000 office buildings in America found that the average rent of those with LEED certification was 31% higher than those of non-LEED-certified buildings.

The impressive finding indicates that renovating existing or building new spaces that have high energy efficiencies and meet LEED certification standards are well worth the effort and investment.

Except, when digging a little deeper into the study’s details and data, that’s not exactly the case. In fact, that’s not at all the case.

The Devil in the Data

As with many studies, reports, and news articles surrounding the vaunted energy transition, reading beyond the title and executive summary is vital.  Doing so for this study of the economics of LEED-certified buildings betrays a very different set of conclusions than the popular consensus and the report’s title.

The golden rules of real estate, including the ultimate of location-location-location being the three most important factors determining value, apparently still matter today, even with Code Red for humanity and approaching climate doom.

When the study’s data are adjusted under regression analysis for building location, building age, and renovation history, the premium that LEED-certified buildings enjoy shrinks from the advertised 31% down to just under 4% before COVID and only 3% after COVID. 

That’s a massive drop to a paltry, low single-digit premium that may be within the statistical noise and uncertainty of the study.  Meaning when an apples-to-apples comparison is performed, LEED certification doesn’t amount to much of any appreciable rent premium.

Building age is far more impactful than LEED certification.  The regression analysis found that office assets built after 2012 commanded a 14% rent premium over those that were built between 2002 and 2011. Each additional decade in age decreased rent by approximately 5%.

Data prove age affects rent much more than LEED certification.

What’s intriguing is that the complete report disclosed these findings and how they evaporated the trumpeted rent premium for LEED certification.  It’s all in the body of the report, which very few people take the time to read.

By the way, LEED-certified office buildings tend to be larger and higher quality assets concentrated in downtowns of expensive cities, compared to non-LEED-certified buildings. Which means LEED-certified spaces should enjoy higher rent premiums than buildings that are smaller, lower quality, and not located in the most exclusive of zip codes.

The report cites that a third of Manhattan’s office inventory is LEED-certified while only a tenth of Louisville’s office inventory is LEED-certified.  And Manhattan office space is pricier than Louisville’s.  Yet rent premiums of Manhattan offices versus Louisville offices have very little to do with whether the buildings are LEED-certified.  It’s because it’s Manhattan and Louisville!

Voodoo Economics

What you don’t find discussed in the study, which harms its credibility, is recognition that constructing a LEED-certified building is a more expensive proposition in up-front capital investment than constructing or renovating a non-LEED certified building.  If there is only a miniscule, or nonexistent, rent premium for the LEED-certified office, the rate of return will indicate a losing investment proposition, not a winning one. That is the opposite conclusion that the study’s title warrants.

The study also argues green buildings offer lower mortgage default risk for investors.  That may not be the case looking forward into the coming years, when considering LEED-certified buildings are disproportionately concentrated in at-risk real estate bubble markets of Manhattan, San Francisco, and so on.

Further, LEED certified buildings are a favorite of the tech industry. And the tech industry right now is on the verge of a major correction, with job losses piling up and with office buildings, many LEED-certified, being vacant and leases being abandoned.  LEED-certified buildings may post higher default rates than traditional offices as we experience the grips of a recession or slowdown, or certainly if another tech bubble bursts.

Unaddressed in the study and regression analysis is what impact government leasing of LEED-certified buildings has on rent spreads.  One of the largest tenants of metropolitan office space is often government.  If bureaucrats favor LEED-certified space and aren’t afraid to pay up with taxpayer dollars to rent it, rent spreads for LEED-certified buildings are likely to skew.  Without government subsidy, there may be no rent premium for LEED certification.  Perhaps, there might even be a ‘green discount’.

Communal Paradise Lost?

There are other flaws in the study.

It wrongly assumes de facto ‘increased productivity’ associated with LEED-certified buildings.  That’s not obvious or necessarily true for the workers who inhabit them.  Ledger entries of debits and credits by accountants working in a LEED-certified building don’t magically happen quicker or more accurately than they would when the accountant is working in a non-LEED-certified building.

There’s another false premise about LEED-certified buildings, particularly in the era of pandemic: the health and wellness benefits associated with LEED-certified buildings.  Today, there are health risks found in LEED design features.

For example, are low-flow water faucets in restrooms of LEED-certified buildings a health risk when it comes to hygiene and germ spread?  A similar question pertains to HVAC systems in LEED-certified buildings that try to balance energy efficiency targets with fresh air-to-recirculation air ratios.

These days, most office occupants do not relish the thought of breathing air all day that has longer average indoor residence time.  Or using faucets that trickle to wash hands.  The safer office building environment would employ higher water flows in restroom faucets to minimize germ transfer and HVAC systems using as much fresh air feed as practical.

And those celebrated common areas for collaboration, meeting, and eating utilized in LEED-certified buildings? Just another venue for potential disease transmission.

Pandemic necessitated a re-think of all facets of life and business.  Yet LEED-certified design has largely escaped such a re-think.  Why?  Aspects common in, or mandated by, LEED certification need an objective reassessment as to whether they are beneficial in the era of Covid.

Too Much of a Green Thing

A key conclusion buried in the study escaped mention in the executive summary and title.  The regression analysis found no statistically significant rent premium associated with higher levels of LEED certification.

Attaining a higher level of LEED certification requires more investment to achieve the target level of points. If there is not a statistically significant rent premium associated with higher LEED certification, then being greener is not better.  Being greener is a poor investment decision; investors lose money when spending to attain a higher level of LEED certification.

The Echo Chamber at Work

How one stumbles upon this report is emblematic of how the echo chamber works in media, the expert class, and environmentalism today.

A headline on a major business website mentioned the study title, specifically the ‘green is good’ hook.  The website article exclusively highlighted the report’s title and the opening statement of the executive summary that advertised the massive 31% rent premium for LEED-certified buildings. Only until tracking down the study and reading the body of the report will the regression analysis come to light.

That’s how the environmental racket operates these days. The green formula:

  • Perform a study to skew in the desired direction by applying favorable assumptions.
  • Push the desired findings in the executive summary.
  • Come up with a creative and eye-catching title (use those eco-taglines we called out in the beginning), then post or publish the report.
  • Collaborate with major media to rebroadcast and further amplify the desired sound bite or headline.

It’s not greenwashing. It’s worse. Most would consider it misleading and unethical.

Reject the Fed’s Mission Creep

Government, elites, and the Left never let a good crisis go to waste. Often, they will inflate, manipulate, or manufacture crises to justify more power, with the price being paid by the middle class, taxpayers, and future generations. As the missions of government and affiliated institutions expand under the false flag of offering the cure to the convenient crisis, it is almost a certainty that the prescribed cures’ harms to the real economy grows with them.

Few entities epitomize this danger more than the Federal Reserve, with its motivated drive toward imposing ‘climate stress tests’ on banks. And few nominations to this burgeoning bureaucracy have ever highlighted the threat more deeply than that of the now-withdrawn nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin. Ms. Raskin’s nomination put a spotlight on the Fed’s continued leftward drift, mission creep, and manipulation of the private capital markets. Although that nomination battle has concluded, the Fed’s campaign against domestic energy and the real economy is only beginning.

Staffed by thousands of PhD economists who spent careers in government and academia; led by governors and regional presidents who never had to make payroll in the real economy; and, answering to politicians who subscribe to leftist ideology, the Fed has become an Orwellian behemoth. It seeks growth in its powers for growth’s sake, and is more than willing to construct questionable premises while disposing of troubling facts down memory holes.

The power grab of the Fed has reached critical mass.

Our central bank not only moves the market, it is the market.  That is, until the Fed loses credibility, in which case the Fed ends up chasing the market.  We may be in the midst of such a reversal, now that the Fed has clearly misread inflation and continues to move at glacial speed to begin quantitative tightening and raising interest rates.

The Fed’s objectives not long ago were simple and direct: to set monetary policy to promote maximum employment, ensure stable prices, and set moderate long-term interest rates. What happened since the financial crisis is stunning, even in the current era of big government.

The Fed’s balance sheet has exploded from under $1 trillion of assets in 2006 to nearly $9 trillion today.  The Fed now talks about beginning quantitative tightening to reduce the balance sheet toward normal levels, but the talk is already long in the tooth.

Meanwhile, real interest rates have been purposely dialed to negative for years, pummeling savers and retirees and instigating market speculation, asset bubbles, and inflation.  Even if one believes the current consensus that the Fed will raise rates by 0.25% increments nearly a dozen times over the next two years, real interest rates would still be negative if inflation does not decline significantly in the interim.

The Fed’s scoreboard of late is blinking red, and everyone senses it is going to get worse, much worse, before better.  Adding to the wall of worry for Fed watchers is the extensive track record of our central bank’s failures that spans its history going back to its creation in 1913.

Yet elites operating in a cocoon insulated from accountability constantly look for the next excuse to grow the Fed’s dominion over the economy by controlling capital flows.

That’s why recently the Fed has commandeered issues ranging from social justice to climate change as useful instruments to retain and grow power.  The Fed believes it does such a good job on monetary policy and inflation, that it now can solve the vexing problems of racial inequality and lack of economic inclusion, while also controlling future weather and investment decision making.

With the Left being the puppet master of the Biden administration, the Fed’s grip on the economy will tighten.  And it will need leadership within its burgeoning bureaucracy that adheres to the proper ideology:  one that believes institutions like the Fed should be utilized to grossly distort the free market, creating winners and losers, both intended and unintended.

And for Ms. Raskin and like-minded future nominees, they look to push the Fed’s path of value destruction deeper and further than ever.

For example, Ms. Raskin advocated for penalizing or precluding banks’ lending to domestic energy companies, whether they be in natural gas, oil, pipelines, or refining.  All in the name of saving the planet.  She stated, “There is no indication that the value of fossil fuel assets is ever going to return,” and wrote how fossil fuels are a “terrible investment.”  How inept that expert prediction now looks in 2022, proving once again how out of touch the expert class is when it comes to the real world.  Should she had been confirmed, she likely would have pushed to have the Fed restrict capital flows into the never-more-vital domestic energy industry.

The danger has not passed.  Unfortunately, there is a long line of potential nominees that Congress will surely soon consider who share similar, or perhaps more extreme, views to Ms. Raskin.  We need nominees willing to scale back the mission creep of the Fed, not those blindly advancing it beyond its circle of competency.

Not only is controlling future weather not in the Fed’s power alley, many worry that reining in self-inflicted inflation may not be a core competency either.  The more the Fed’s mission veers from its shaky circle of competence, its performance will worsen and its politics will dominate. That’s bad for taxpayers, the middle class, business owners, individual rights, and wide swaths of this great nation including my home of western Pennsylvania.

This is not a typical Democrat-Republican issue.  Instead, this is a government-citizen issue and affirming who answers to who.  Congress needs to pass this civics test when it comes to holding the Fed to a reasonable mission and when assessing future Fed nominees.

Nick Deiuliis is the author of Precipice: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy America. For daily insights and commentary from Nick follow him on Twitter at @NickDeiuliis.

Medical Malpractice Claims the Hippocratic Oath: Part One

The most famous section of the Hippocratic Oath, that classic Greek ethical template for the medical profession, pledges to “do no harm or injustice.”[1]  Unfortunately, leaders of the global medical community have committed grave moral failure and brazenly violate the Oath.

The malfeasance does not pertain to subject matter we would hope the medical community is focusing on: researching and improving treatments for cancer, Covid, autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other maladies that threaten individual health every day.  Instead, the malfeasance is rooted in the world’s leading medical journals calling for drastic treatment of…climate change.

The editors of over 200 global medical journals—including stalwarts like The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and The British Medical Journal—jointly penned an editorial in September 2021 that called for emergency action on climate change.[2]

The editors of over 200 global medical journals jointly penned an editorial in September 2021 that called for emergency action on climate change.

There is much to loathe in the editorial. It drips with a toxic combination of extreme environmentalism and leftist principles.  Ideology bordering on religion steamrolls over science and logic throughout.  That the global medical field thought leaders see climate change predictions and energy policy expertise as core competencies is shocking.

That they place climate change above pandemics and poverty as a larger health crisis is alarming.

That they demand imposing government control and socialist doctrine across economies and societies is disgraceful.

The editorial is a textbook study in creative writing; it should be used as a teaching instrument in college English departments.

If you think this summation an exaggeration, consider the following excerpts from medicine’s Apocalyptic manifesto, which are all debunked with facts:

“Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases”

The authors postulate that carbon-based energy and corresponding higher trace CO2 concentrations affect climate, which then harms humans.  They ignore extensive data across decades and continents that show carbon (and the resulting CO2 emissions increase) allows people to live longer, their babies to suffer lower rates of infant mortality, their kids to be better educated, their economies to be wealthier, and their citizens’ individual rights to be better protected.  If you believe access to reliable and life-sustaining carbon-based energy increases global temperatures, you should be advocating for more of it, not less, when it comes to human health.

“The science is unequivocal”

The medical profession should know better than most that science is never meant to be unequivocal.  Science is not about consensus and the static; it is about challenging the consensus and constant refinement.  That’s why doctors not long ago attached leeches to patients to cure them of ailments, while today a doctor would lose her license and be sued to financial ruin if she performed such an act on an unwitting patient.

“Only fundamental and equitable changes to societies will reverse our current trajectory”

This statement betrays the leftist mentality embraced by much of the medical community.  It’s a familiar playbook of the extreme left and right for over a century: manufacture a crisis that requires drastic action, proffer up squishy but subliminally malignant concepts like ‘equity’ as guides, and then go about remaking society as you see fit.  Marx and his movement (a.k.a. communism) successfully murdered hundreds of millions utilizing the playbook that is appropriated in the editorial.

“Governments must intervene to support the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, health systems, and much more”

This quote is the most chilling from an overall frightening document.

The medical profession is calling for a complete overhaul of societies and economies, forcing change by the brutal arms of government.  Let’s surrender to big-city mayors and bureaucracies complete unilateral control of urban America.  Stalin and Mao did such a fine job feeding their people, let’s turn over food production to the state.  The New York City subway system is such a superior experience to ride hailing, so let’s mandate public transport for all. Let the government-run health care—it will surely be a higher level of care to what the private sector now offers (even though our current health care system is the envy of the world).

“No temperature rise is ‘safe’”

Yet extreme cold kills over three times as many people every year as extreme heat (ironically, the medical journal The Lancet reported this recently, which is one of the co-authors of the climate change editorial).   Thus, logic would indicate that a small level of warming will produce a net saving of lives.

“The cost of renewable energy is dropping rapidly”

No, it is not.  Renewable energy, such as wind and solar generation, has proven to be epically unreliable at the worst possible times, as evidenced recently in California, Texas, and the UK.

Renewable costs are increasing, in part because governments across the globe mandate their market share, and the materials required to manufacture components are scarce and sit in faraway hostile lands (i.e., China).

The cost of renewable energy is hidden by a Byzantine maze of state subsidy and regulated industries.

Make no mistake, that cost is high, it must be netted out in the end, it is growing rapidly, and it will be ultimately shouldered as a hidden regressive tax on the working poor and middle classes.

The recent medical journal editorial on climate change shows that the medical profession is rapidly sliding down a slippery slope, jettisoning objective analysis and the scientific method and embracing political science and ideology bordering on religion.  If the slide continues, all of us will suffer life-altering consequences: adoption of harmful government policies and less competent medical care.

Look for part two of “Medical Malpractice Claims the Hippocratic Oath” coming the week of March 7, 2022. 

For related analysis by Nick, see, “A Rational Person’s Guide To Climate Change.”

[1] The Hippocratic Oath, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://www.nlm.nih.gov
[2] Call for Emergency Action to Limit Global Temperature Increases, Restore Biodiversity, and Protect Health, September 6, 2021, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2113200

Understanding Today’s Left Through Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty

Today, the Left runs rampant through the corridors of government, academia, and treasured institutions.  It tramples over the individual and our Constitutional norms.  How did we get here?  The cautionary roadmap of the dubious journey was laid out decades ago by the great British philosopher Isaiah Berlin.  The path is best understood by Berlin’s two dueling concepts of liberty: negative liberty and positive liberty.

Berlin’s essay on the two competing types of liberty was delivered in a lecture at Oxford in 1958.1  Ironically, Berlin lamented during his prime how social and political thought in western democracies had fallen upon evil days.  He noted the alarming ease of how a professor’s abstract philosophical concepts would be weaponized by those looking to force rigid and life-stifling doctrines upon the masses.  Berlin had no idea how much worse things would get and would be shocked at today’s strict ideological environment that shackles the individual.

The Virtue of Negative Liberty

Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers, or constraints external to the individual. The person is free to choose their own way for their own good without obstruction from others.  They might make it big or fail miserably; but the doors in life are open to their choosing.  The individual is not dictated to and is left alone.

In Berlin’s words, we use the negative concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question: ‘What activities or areas should a person or group be left alone to do, without interference by others?’  Think of negative liberty as the absence of something: the something being external factors that will impede the person.  Negative liberty correlates to strong individual rights.

Negative liberty equates to the belief that it is better for a person to fail through their own volition than to succeed due to another’s benevolent control.  A person’s wishes are not to be frustrated by government.  Instead, they are to be respected.

The Opiate of Positive Liberty

Positive liberty is someone or something acting to take control of the individual’s life and to help realize the individual’s purpose.  We use the positive concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question of: ‘What or who may control or interference with someone to get them to do (or be) this rather than that?’

Think of positive liberty as requiring the presence of something: the ability to make the right decisions for oneself. Something or someone must act external to the individual to put the individual in a better position to make good choices.  Positive liberty often justifies external agents, such as government, to impose conditions to assist the individual in making good choices.  Coercion is almost a certainty with application of positive liberty.  The elimination of free will is the collateral consequence associated with the tactics used to apply positive liberty theory.

While negative liberty is attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is often attributed to collectivism or big government.  Someone or something must decide what is best for the individual and to place them on the right preordained path, whether it be a benevolent authority or an oppressive one.  People don’t know what is good for them; it is up to the state, bureaucrat, or despot to decide what is best for them.

But forcing or coercing an individual to conform their life to the view of another is a moral failing.  Thus, so too is positive liberty theory.  Immanuel Kant established the concept of ‘nobody can compel me to be happy in his own way’ and observed that paternalism is “the greatest despotism imaginable.”2

The Ebb and Flow of Negative and Positive Liberty

As Berlin showed, negative and positive liberty are not merely two distinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal.  The more society embraces of one, the less it has of the other and vice versa.  To a large extent, negative and positive liberties are mutually exclusive to one another.

Ideally, society looks to strike the right balance between negative and positive liberty.  A critical mass of individual liberty must remain free from societal control and failure to do so equates to despotism.  Individuals strive to maximize freedom, yet most realize one must surrender some liberty to society to save the rest.  But if too much liberty is surrendered, we reach a point where there is nothing remaining to preserve.

The ideal society will look to maximize the amount of negative liberty and apply only the minimum amount of positive liberty to address the most pressing issues or emergencies.  That was the foundational premise of the United States.  Our Constitution was designed to permanently safeguard individual rights via negative liberty principles from the changing whims of the majority or the inevitable temptations of those in government.

Wars and revolutions are fought to establish and preserve negative liberty.  The human condition yearns for independence.  Yet people tend to let their guards down and can become complacent during good times, providing windows of opportunity for the entrenched bureaucracy and ambitious politicians to commandeer positive liberty theory to increase control over the citizenry.

Negative and positive liberty wage a battle of balance over time, particularly in chaotic democracies and other popular forms of government.  A negative liberty-laden society is created through political/societal disruption.  Followed by a slow yet steady evolution to more state control under cover of positive liberty theory.  To the point where authoritarianism reaches critical mass. And then the cycle repeats itself with a new disruption in response to an unbearable environment for the individual.

The Left’s Power Grab Via Positive Liberty Doctrine

Positive liberty doctrine has been utilized through the years by dictators, socialists, and communists to justify coercion of the individual and suppression of society.  The pitch was tempting, particularly during trying times: ‘The government, leader, or state is here to help you become a better you:  there are things beyond your control that hold you back and government will fix that. Give up your negative liberty and everything will work out to your liking.’

Over the past century, Germany and Spain (fascism) along with Russia and China (communism) jumped headfirst into embracing positive liberty and the shunning of negative liberty.  The results have been, and continue to be, devastating to individual rights, minorities, and quality of life.

The United States, which valued negative liberty and the rights of individuals to act on their own accord, served as the shining light inspiration and primary bulwark against Hitler’s Germany, the Soviet Union, and now communist China. Yet ironically, while America was leading the way, it was also slowly and incrementally slipping toward accepting positive liberty policies and diminishing negative liberty.

The slipping toward positive liberty thinking and away from negative liberty values began with Woodrow Wilson and his trust of the professional bureaucrat to know what is best for Americans.  Further sliding ensued with FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society.  President Obama’s eight years took things even further down the scale to where government pervaded all aspects of society and economy.

Each government failure to address a targeted societal ill justified more government.  State failure bred clamoring for more positive liberty via even bigger government.  Meritocracy of the individual was supplanted by mediocrity of the collective.

In 2022 it feels as if the Left has achieved a high-water mark in American exposure to positive liberty tactics.  Individual rights and freedoms are at 200+ year lows.

Three Current Symptoms of the Left’s Application of Positive Liberty

Americans today experience a host of symptoms that betray the prevalence of the Left, big government, and the hollow promises of positive liberty.  Three particularly troubling ones stand out.

First, the Left’s doctrine of equal outcomes supplanting equal opportunity in public education cripples student proficiency and caps an entire generation’s potential.   

Government negates individual achievement at every stage of the educational journey, from preschool through university.  Entrance proficiency exams to determine admission into magnet preschools are scrapped for lotteries.  Homework and grades are dropped in high schools in exchange for the camouflage of sky-high matriculation and graduation rates.  SAT scores are no longer accepted or considered for college admissions. GPA inflation rages at universities while class rankings are no longer tabulated.  The ivory towers went from marketplaces of ideas and nurturers of free thought to the minarets of the intolerant religion of the Left.

The government and the Left tell us such educational approaches are fairer to all and erase institutional systemic biases that hold back individuals from their potential.  Yet the result is the cheating of individual achievement, meritocracy, and standards.  Every student is brought down to the same substandard experience and outcome.  Ultimately, society’s capacity is diminished when it can no longer effectively educate its incoming workforce.

Second, government used the false promise of knowing what course was best to keep the individual healthy and society safe from the Covid pandemic to justify the imposition of drastic policies that severely reduced individual rights and the free economy. 

The past three years of big government’s management of pandemic via coercion has led to economy-wide shutdowns, skyrocketing inflation, supply chain asphyxiation, record national debt, stunted educational development of kids, and reduced wellness of wide demographics.  The individual lost nearly complete control of what they did each day, week, month, and year; from their economic livelihood to their freedom of movement to what goes into their bodies.

The return received in exchange for this surrendering of free will has been grossly disappointing:  over 800,000 American Covid deaths and climbing, endless reactionary flip-flopping on policies, and the clear sense that government leaders are not following science to protect citizens but instead are imposing political science to control citizens.  Pandemic has provided an epic opportunity for the Left to institute positive liberty policy across every facet of American life.  And the Left did not hesitate to do so.

Third, positive liberty doctrine has been applied lavishly to justify the gamut of climate change policies. 

Climate change ideology is the ideal long-term opportunity for the Left to permanently impose positive liberty doctrine across society and to squelch individual/negative liberty.  That’s because energy is used by everyone and impacts everything; control energy and you control the individual, the economy, and society.  Just listen to the common rhetorical climate musings from the Left and their implied messages:

‘Climate change is the existential threat facing the world today.’ Translation: we must place society on the right track. ‘Climate change is a code red for humanity.’ Translation: we must adjust quickly to reduce the risk.  ‘The time to act is now.’ Translation: we must impose drastic policies immediately.

The evil genius of the Left is evident with climate change zealotry: convincing a large portion of the population that what atmospheric trace concentrations of carbon dioxide will do in fifty years warrants an immediate surrendering of negative liberty and individual rights.

Using Berlin’s Warning from the Cold War to Win the Current Ideology War

If you like being in control of your own destiny, if you own a business, if you want a promising future for your kids, if you believe in science and reason, and if you love your country, then heed Berlin’s teachings on the endearing promise of negative liberty and the false hope of positive liberty.  Steadfastly protect the former and be on constant guard against those promoting the latter.  More than you think may be riding on your willingness to do so.



1. Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, An Inaugural Lecture Delivered Before the University of Oxford on 31 October 1958.

2. Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays.

IPCC: The Religion and the Racket of Climate Change

Let’s perform a quick exercise. Consider the following quotes:

“code red for humanity”
“dangerously close to spiraling out of control”
“the alarm bells are deafening”
“deadly heat waves”
“gargantuan hurricanes”
“unleash disastrous weather”
“people could die just from going outside”
“the world is running out of time”
“Earth could broil”

Now answer the following multiple-choice question. The direct quotes above are from:
(a) The script for a heavily marketed disaster film/horror story
(b) The sermon for an end-of-times religious cult
(c) An article written by energy/environment journalists of a respected global news outlet
(d) All of the above

If you answered (d), there is good news and bad news.

The good news is you are correct. The quotes are from a “news” story issued by Reuters that was timed to amplify the AR6 2021 report from that bureaucratic nest known as the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The article replaces objective journalism with a blend of Hollywood script and modern-day Book of Revelations.

The bad news is that if you are applying to college or interviewing for a job, you are advised to shroud your intelligence and instead feign a veneer of politically correct groupthink. That’s because today when it comes to climate change, the objective mind is subjected to the pincer movement of amped up rhetoric from the church’s high priests and the persecution of the dissenting free thinker.

“Climate Science Integrity” Becomes an Oxymoron

Crucial to progress in science is the willingness of the scientific community to self-audit and to be clinically objective. Self-audit drives not only progress, but also informs of the ethical compass of the scientific community. In the arena of climate science, the religion has subsumed objectivity and the ethical compass is broken.

The integrity of the IPCC and its climate models are massively important to billions of human beings. The results of these dubious endeavors and highly questionable results are not being used for purely academic pursuits; they are being used to drive public policy decisions that impact countless lives. The logic is linear and chilling: flawed model inputs produce mutated predictions, mutated predictions advise wrong-headed policies, and wrong-headed policies erode the human condition.

Setting sound public policy requires the ability to predict outcomes with reasonable accuracy. When models are wired to manufacture desired outcomes or reflect subjective beliefs, a fundamental flaw is created. When the models used to forecast and their creators demonstrate either gross incompetence or an unethical bias, then their views of the future and resulting policy recommendations should be ignored.

Modeling Like its 1999 to Predict 2100 Weather

While the world’s best meteorologists armed with the most sophisticated technology can’t accurately pinpoint the location of a hurricane in a few days without applying a wide cone of uncertainty, the priests in the church of climate state with arrogant certainty how much warmer the planet will be decades in the future, to the tenth of a degree. Such obvious naiveite should be ridiculed by the scientific community, but it won’t be.

And it gets worse when you dig into the details inside these black box climate models.

For decades, the UN’s IPCC and the models it utilized assume for key scenarios that coal demand and consumption would grow drastically. In fact, for years the IPCC models assumed coal would become the top energy source for cars – surpassing oil and electric vehicles.

The infamous RCP8.5 scenario from earlier IPCC reports, which sets the stage for many of these IPCC scenarios and global warming predictions, assumes a 600% increase in global coal consumption per capita by 2100. Such an assumption is ridiculous, considering realities such as the natural gas shale revolution and energy efficiency innovations. Worse yet, the world has demonstrated the absurdity of a 600% increase in coal consumption, with coal demand peaking and, in developed nations like the US, declining precipitously over the past 15 years.

And IPCC’s recent AR6 report embraced a “shared socio-economic pathways” (that’s what technocrats now call scenarios) case that assumes even higher fossil fuel emissions than the prior RCP8.5 scenario. This laughable new scenario, labeled SSP5-8.5, has no basis in the reality of current energy markets and predicts future CO2 emissions from energy that blow past the prior IPCC scenario of RCP8.5, as well as projections from the IEA, BP, and Exxon.

The IPCC refuses to provide relative probabilities for each of its scenarios. But guess which case IPCC references the most when discussing climate change consequences? That’s right, the one that is the fiction bordering on the fantasy: SSP5-8.5.

Why would such an obvious flawed assumption on coal consumption be allowed to propagate through these IPCC scenarios year after year and report after report? Because without a massive increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from burning more and more coal, the model won’t spit out a desired spike in future global temperatures. No boiling planet, no imminent Armageddon (Code Red!) and salvation via a call to action (Climate Action Now!). The religion is exposed, and the racket vanishes.

Unpacking the Climate Change Issue

Now, I’ve written extensively on the issue of climate change, taking the path of data-grounded, science-based reality (https://nickdeiuliis.com/news/a-rational-persons-guide-to-climate-change/). So, before you shout ‘denier’ and stone me with lumps of coal, consider I’ve gone on record acknowledging that climate change has been a reality for millions of years and that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased since the advent of the Industrial Revolution from human activity. Both are undeniable facts.

There are three other undeniable facts, however.

First, those rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are still trace amounts. All the CO2 emitted from industrial human activity over the past couple of hundred years took CO2 from just over 0.02% to roughly 0.04% of the atmosphere.

Using parts-per-million instead of percent and quoting a “doubling” of atmospheric CO2 (from 200 ppm to 400 ppm) may sound more ominous and impressive. But it is the same as 0.02% to 0.04%: still trace levels, and still inconsequential in the grand, complex scheme of global climate.

Second, the ability, accuracy, and precision of climate models and the so-called scientists who construct them have been horrendous.

Perhaps gross inaccuracy with predicting climate twenty years from now is not surprising, considering meteorologists can’t predict next week’s weather with certainty. At a minimum, these climate scientists (a term some may argue is self-contradicting) should be fired for incompetence and their models should be scrapped. The models, which are endlessly refined year after year, badly miss predictions and can’t even accurately predict prior temperatures when tested in a backward-looking fashion. That we continue to fund them with billions in taxpayer dollars and listen to them when developing public policy is societal self-inflicted ignorance.

Third, and most important, every activity and endeavor in society and the economy has a significant carbon footprint across its life cycle. That holds true for wind power, solar power, food consumption, public transportation, the hydrogen economy, and social media.

Which means CO2 levels will continue to rise no matter what we embrace: combustion engines or electric vehicles, solar or natural gas power, in person or remote work, manufacturing or the idea economy. The only way to attain a zero-carbon society is to shutter the economy and eradicate quality of life. There is no magic technology or whiz-bang invention that will change that fact. Any representation to the contrary is a fraud on science.

The Religion and the Racket

Bureaucrats in government (and global institutions like the UN), academics engaged in so-called climate research, and media prostituting for clicks and social media follows have spent years eroding the science and constructing in its place a belief-based religion. Pledge your allegiance to the church of climate or be cast out and ostracized by your colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family.

The religion is then used to initiate the racket: justifying and procuring endless funding and attention, where the high priests engage in a lucrative scheme that yields expanding funding, ballooning staffs, new research labs, a wider audience, and, most important of all, influence on public policy and personal decision making (aka power).

Unfortunately, while this elite climate syndicate enjoys the fruits of their racket measured in billions of dollars, it ends up being quite the non-virtuous circle for the rest of us who must pay the monetary bill and the societal price. We are being subjected to an endless loop of elitist digital media-preachers telling us what to do and where to send our money so that we may be saved (the spirit of Jim Bakker’s 700 Club rises again).

That’s how you end up with elite journalists, government officials, and academics from well-respected organizations spewing baseless hysteria like the trashy quotes above. The authors should be ashamed, for what they created is not objective and is not representative of ethical journalism. Instead, it is blatant marketing and advocacy for a complex issue they know little about. The organization they work for should reconsider its self-prescribed label of “news provider.”

The legitimate Code Red for humanity is that the very stakeholders society relies upon to protect it from harmful schemes—government, academia, and media—are the perpetrators of this scheme.

To learn more about the IPCC models and their flaws, give a read to How Climate Scenarios Lost Touch With Reality by Roger Pielke Jr. and Justin Richie