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Counterpoint: Urgency on Climate Change Is Long Overdue

For an alternate viewpoint see: “Point: No Need to Panic on Climate Change”

It’s not time to panic about climate change. It’s past time.

Usually, panic is the wrong response to almost every situation. It implies irrational overreaction to threats, often producing unproductive or harmful handling of them.

Yet, the existential threat that climate change poses to life on Earth and the very planet itself requires at least an element of panic as a catalyst to a meaningful, sustained response.

Worry hasn’t worked. Concern hasn’t worked. Alarm hasn’t worked.

Globally, June of this year was the hottest June on record, going back almost two centuries when the United States and Britain first began tracking atmospheric temperatures.

On July 3, the hottest daily mean global temperature ever was reached at 62.69 degrees Fahrenheit. The next day set another record. So did the next, and the next. From July 3 through July 29, the Earth experienced 29 consecutive hottest days — in any month, in any year, ever.

History’s greatest physicists and mathematicians, from Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein, loved the certainty of numbers.

It’s impossible to argue with the grim certainty of the ever more frightening climate numbers on our precious planet.

Whether or not panic is warranted, our anxiety is already rising, almost in concert with the inexorable increase in global temperatures.

While “climate anxiety” is not yet an official psychological disorder, therapists report a growing number of patients with what some call eco-anxiety, a term first coined in 2007, especially among young people. A peer-reviewed article published in May 2023 in the journal Nature Mental Health cited a recent study of 10,000 people ages 16-25 in 10 countries: Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they were very worried or extremely worried about climate change — and 84 percent were somewhat worried.

It makes sense that young people feel the most urgency about climate change. They have the longest still to live on a planet enduring more uncontrollable wildfires, more unbearable heat waves, more glacial melting, more warming of both the deepest seas and the blankets of air above them, more hurricanes unleashed by warmer oceans, more deforestation, more destruction of the life-saving trees that combat global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

We owe enormous gratitude to one singular young person who, as much as anyone else, has compelled her elders to finally take climate change seriously. Swedish savant Greta Thunberg began her relentless campaign as a teenager. At age 16, Time magazine named her among the 100 most influential people in the world, and, still just 20, she has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Our house is on fire,” Thunberg told the World Economic Forum in January 2019.

New economic powerhouses such as China and India protest that they are being asked to burn less fossil fuel, release fewer greenhouse gases, and take other remedial steps that the United States, Japan, Germany and other industrialized nations did not have to take in earlier decades.

China and India are right: the evolving requirements of responsible global stewardship are unfair. Their economies happen to be booming in a more perilous era, one in which the very future of life on Earth hangs in the balance for the first time.

Such inequity is no excuse for inaction on their part.

There have been signs of growing international resolve against the ravages of climate change. The Paris Agreement, an international treaty adopted in 2015, has been signed by 193 countries plus the European Union, pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and give developing nations money to fight global warming. The historic accord aims to limit the global temperature increase this century to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) while pursuing efforts to hold it to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Even those relatively modest temperature hikes would cause more wildfires, hurricanes and other destructive climate events.

Disgracefully, former president Donald Trump pulled the United States from the Paris Agreement. His successor, President Biden, restored U.S. membership on his first day in office.

More ambitiously, the European Union has joined the United Nations, China and 69 other countries, which combined emit three-quarters of all greenhouse gases, in pledging to reach zero net emissions by 2050. More than 1,000 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles and Houston, are part of the same initiative.

Not surprisingly, even such a dangerous threat as climate change, one that should be uncontroversial, has been politicized in our deeply polarized era. Conservative commentators blame environmentalists’ longstanding opposition to nuclear power for contributing to climate change. Nuclear power production does not emit greenhouse gases, but it entails other risks involving the storage of spent fuel rods and the cataclysmic, if rare, danger of nuclear meltdown.

France has gone against the grain of most other industrialized countries in obtaining more than two-thirds of its energy from nuclear power, compared with just one-fifth in the United States.

While we’ve picked up the pace in mitigating climate change, however belatedly, it’s still far from enough. If we want to save our grandchildren and their grandchildren from even worse natural catastrophes, we will have to do far more.

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COUNTERPOINT: Wind Turbine Project Endangers Wildlife

For an alternate viewpoint see: POINT: Reaping the Whirlwind

Peck’s Beach, better known as Ocean City, New Jersey, is according to the Washington Post, the center ring in the debate over wind turbines being placed off the Jersey shore.

How ironic that the town’s very early history was as an outpost for the whaling industry. John Peck was a major whaler.  At that time, people used whale blubber for oil lamps, soap, paint and varnish. Today whales dolphins and other sea creatures are collateral damage as Gov. Phil Murphy, Orsted, the Danish energy company, and others push forward with wind turbines for billions of dollars and, just as relevant, major liberal credit for fighting climate change.

In his July 7th open letter to citizens in Ocean City, Mayor Jay A. Gillian stated that “One thing is certain – everyone’s electric rates are going up. That much we’ve been assured of by the developer and our state.”

“More importantly, we have no idea what impact this massive wind farm project will have on our ecosystems and environment, our economy, and our health,” the mayor said.

As more people learn about the project, this view is becoming the consensus. And that change in public opinion is  the reason Murphy, Orsted and a small cadre of supporters are trying to race this project to completion.

In this same letter, Gillian talked about the fact that the day after the federal government approved these 98900-foot-tall offshore wind turbines carrying 1,100 megawatts of electricity via a transmission line under our beaches and dunes, the state of New Jersey informed Ocean City that a single piping plover had hatched chicks in the dunes near 16th street.

The mayor used this occurrence to make the point that piping plover set off extraordinary care to protect the chicks including removing trash cans from the beach, routine beach patrol and police patrols by vehicle were prohibited and a litany of other measures were put into place. Why is the same care and effort not being put into place  to protect whales and other sea life for the wind turbine project?

Just in the last week we’ve seen whales die near the beaches of Deal and Long Branch New Jersey and off Long Island, N.Y.  Whales, dolphins and other sea creatures off the Jersey Shore are dying in historic numbers, as the preliminary work for the wind turbines takes place. Yet, we’re told nothing to see here, move along because ‘we must save the planet.’

It certainly seems that all this planet saving might be greased by all the money that is sloshing around this project. Orsted recently was given state tax credits by the legislature that might be worth billions to further bolster its bottom line.

But what about the economy of the various Jersey shore towns? A recent study by the Cape May County Commissioners concluded that these wind turbines would cost them billions of tourism dollars. It’s believed that the skyscraper windmills will be visible from many beaches spoiling the beautiful views that draw tourists to the area.

In fact, I’m writing this column from North Wildwood and the beauty of the beaches and ocean is part of the birthright of those of us lucky enough to grow up in the Delaware Valley- South Jersey area. Why not start by putting windmills throughout Phil Murphy’s estates? I believe Murphy is shoving this project through because he has national aspirations and this project would be a gold star many times over among progressives.

I am hopeful that Orsted and Murphy can be defeated. In a recent joint statement, Senate President Nick Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin questioned the impacts of the wind projects.  Also, groups fighting the wind turbines have gotten a major celebrity ready to speak out forcefully against the project.

If you care about whales, other sea creatures, and the beauty of the Jersey shore, get involved.


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OPINION: Stop the Panicked Fearmongering; There Is Hope Ahead

The meaningful exchange of truly diverse ideas and perspectives has withered over recent decades. We need to foster and promote critical thinking and constructive discussion. Our new Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, an international coalition of politicians, business leaders, public intellectuals and cultural commentators, will help ensure a broader range of perspectives can be heard globally.

Consider the world’s response to the COVID pandemic. A panic-stricken lockdown orthodoxy far too soon took hold, and those whose policy proposals deviated quickly were labeled “COVID deniers.”

The obvious downsides to universal lockdowns were ignored by those striving to garner credit for simple-minded immediacy of response. Thus, we saw increases in income distribution and wealth inequalitywidespread loss of employment, substantive declines in spending, and general deterioration in economic conditions; severe declines in mental health and wellbeing, delayed and diminished access to healthcare, and record high levels of domestic violence. The education of children was particularly affected. School closures, on average, robbed children of more than seven months of education, which could end up costing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

We need to have a serious conversation about our manner of response before the next crisis to ensure that the cure is not much worse than the disease. Consider the alarmist treatment of climate change. Campaigners play up fear while neglecting to mention that reductions in poverty and increases in resiliency mean that climate-related disasters kill fewer people. Over the past century, deaths have dropped 97 percent. Heat waves capture the headlines. Globally, however, cold kills nine times more people. Currently, higher temperatures are resulting in 166,000 fewer temperature-related deaths annually.

Fear-mongering and suppressing inconvenient truths are pushing us dangerously toward the wrong solutions. Politicians and pundits call for net-zero policies that will cost far beyond $100 trillion while producing benefits a fraction as large. We need to discuss honestly the costs and benefits to find the best solutions.

We also need to conduct a more mature conversation about how to better help the poorer half of the world. The United Nations promises everything imaginable through its Sustainable Development Goals. But promising everything without prioritization is no plan at all.

We must zero in on the most efficient solutions first. More than 100 economists and several Nobel laureates working with the Copenhagen Consensus have identified the most promising and effective SDG targets. We could, for example, virtually eliminate tuberculosis, which needlessly still kills more than a million people yearly, for an additional $6.2 billion a year. We could invest $5.5 billion more in agricultural research and development in low-income countries to increase crop yields, help farmers produce more and consumers pay less, and reduce the number of hungry people by more than 100 million annually.

There are a dozen areas where much could be done for comparatively little money. We could efficiently and quickly boost learning in schools, save mothers’ and newborns’ lives, tackle malaria, make government procurement much more efficient, improve nutrition, increase land tenure security, turbo-charge the effects of trade, advance skilled migration, and increase child immunization rates.

These 12 sensible and implementable policies could save more than 4 million lives yearly and generate economic benefits worth more than a trillion dollars for an outlay of $35 billion a year for the next seven years.

The new Alliance for Responsible Citizenship forum can help us positively envision the future. We can focus on what is truly important and attainable, initiate and reward a more nuanced global discussion regarding the problems that will always beset us, and look forward confidently to a world more abundant, laden with opportunity, sustainable and hopeful.

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Experts Warn of Grid Crisis as PA Senators Demand Green Energy

When the U.S. Senate approved the Inflation Reduction Act, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) celebrated the legislation as “the most ambitious climate bill the Senate has ever passed.”

Casey said he supported the Biden administration’s goal of reducing power from coal and natural gas sources. “It will shore up the U.S.’s place as a clean energy producer and reduce our greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2030,” Casey said, “while investing in the coal communities that powered our nation for generations.”

But last week, senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard a very different story. The retirement of fossil fuel electricity production and the lack of reliable renewables to replace it are putting America’s grid at risk. That includes the possibility of rolling blackouts and widespread deaths from a loss of power.

For example, the regional grid operator PJM projected 40 gigawatts of electric production to be retired by 2030, about one-fifth of its current installed capacity. More than half of that loss comes from what it termed “policy-driven retirements.”

Last week’s committee hearing was called to “examine the reliability and resiliency of electric service in the United States in light of recent reliability assessments and alerts.” The news was ominous.

James Robb, president & CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, told senators the electric power system “is absolutely at an inflection point right now.”

The grid, Robb said, needs to be able to hold up especially well when demand surges, and residents call for huge amounts of electricity. He argued that novel new forms of electricity production “can’t do that nearly as well as large, spinning mass generation.”

“And that’s why the loss of coal plants and natural gas plants and nuclear plants is so concerning from a grid reliability perspective,” he said.

“Grid transformation” has occurred throughout the U.S. for years as increasing numbers of reliable coal-fired power plants are retired, and renewable energy methods take their place. Activists claim the rapid shift away from carbon-based fuels to green energy is necessary to prevent the theoretical effects of climate change in the coming century.

David Tudor, CEO of the midwestern Associated Electric Cooperative, predicted the rapid retirement of fossil fuel power plants could bring about population-level deaths in the U.S.

“My concern is, you’ve got a gap period here that we have this push for new renewables and this push to shut down plants that work, and there’s nothing there in the middle to save us,” he said.

“I fear we are going to have blackouts, and I’m afraid we’re going to see a significant number of lives lost.”

Grid warning signs have been flashing at the state level as well. A panel of experts told the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee last month the state and the region were facing near-term power shortages due to the retirement of legacy plants in favor of newer, untested renewable source generation.

State Sen. Gene Yaw warned at the hearing that “short-sighted environmental policies” have “forced fossil fuel plants into nonexistence, resulting in fewer reliable energy sources to shoulder the burden of increased demand on Pennsylvania’s electrical grid.”

Also of concern is the number of jobs in Pennsylvania and elsewhere supported directly or indirectly by fossil fuels. A recent report found that fossil fuels, directly and indirectly, support over 400,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone and millions across the country.

Neither of Pennsylvania’s federal senators appeared concerned about the possibility of electricity shortages in the state or nationwide. Casey, who did not respond to requests for comment, has supported the use of “tax credits for companies to build American-made clean energy facilities” and called upon the state to “increase the use of renewable energy” to address the climate crisis.

Sen. John Fetterman, meanwhile—who also did not respond to requests for comment—has claimed that the U.S. needs to “transition to clean energy as quickly as possible.” The freshman Democratic senator has shown a willingness to play politics on the question of energy, having reversed his position on fracking during his contentious run for Senate last year. But he has also supported extreme policies like carbon caps as a way to mitigate the possible dangers of climate change.

After the Senate hearing, Rich Nolan of the National Mining Association released a statement saying it was “impossible to listen to the testimony this morning, including from the nation’s top reliability regulator and from the CEO of our largest grid operator, and not conclude that we’re pushing aside existing, dispatchable generation – namely the nation’s coal capacity – far too quickly.”

“We are already in a grid reliability crisis, and the EPA’s regulatory onslaught is making an extraordinarily challenging situation all but unmanageable,” he said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said most electrical generation in the U.S. continues to come from coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and petroleum. Just around one-fifth of the total generation comes from renewables.

Robb told the senators his industry is doing its part on the infrastructure side to move the power, but that doesn’t solve the problem if there’s no power to move.

“The electric transmission grid is highly reliable and resilient,” he said. “Yet the risk profile to customers is steadily increasing.”

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DAEMEN: U.S. Mining Best Way to Address Looming Threat of Foreign Mineral Cartel

America needs to adopt a bold strategy to ramp up mining. The aim should be to solve a major problem in the fight against climate change — a shortage of minerals vital to clean energy technologies like electric cars and transmission systems for renewable power.

Mining is the foundation of a green economy. Countries require minerals, and that means mining. The world’s growing economies and population will demand a lot more minerals like copper, nickel and lithium. The International Energy Agency says that global production of battery minerals needs to expand tenfold to meet projected critical minerals needs by 2030. Hundreds of new mines are needed, the IEA says.

But beyond our horizon of attention, trouble is brewing.  Several resource-rich countries, led by Indonesia, are considering forming a cartel to control the global supply and pricing of battery metals, similar to what OPEC does for oil.  With demand for lithium, nickel and other vital raw materials rising, the idea that some mining countries would like to take advantage of their mineral deposits and control the future market is gaining ground. The so-called lithium triangle of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia has considered forming a lithium cartel — and may yet do so. But we know from our experience with OPEC that the best way to counter cartels is to ramp up production in the United States.

But domestic mining inspires in many groups a deep aversion — and they have been able to block efforts in Congress to streamline the mine permitting process. It may be hard to believe, but it takes 15 years or more for a mining project in the U.S. to become operational. In most other mining countries, it takes less than half that time.

With global demand for raw materials soaring, we should stop pretending that we can depend on imports of minerals from other countries to meet our needs. Such dependence carries a huge risk from a potential cartel and from our heavy reliance on Russia for uranium and China for rare earths and other vital minerals.

Make no mistake, the United States has abundant mineral resources beneath the ground, but they’re out of reach.  Paradoxically, if environmentalists continue to have the upper hand and block mining, the transition to clean energy technologies will be slowed and carbon emissions from using fossil fuels will climb, which would be terrible news for the environment.

As climate change unfolds, the minerals challenge will be felt acutely by U.S. industries, especially the automobile industry. A typical electric car requires six times the mineral input of a conventional vehicle. Each EV battery has hundreds of pounds of minerals imported mainly from overseas. Auto industry analysts warn that a mineral shortfall could stop electric car production.

We dare not stick our heads in the sand and pretend we can do without mining.  Domestic production and processing of minerals is a hedge against volatility in mineral prices and protection against potential cartels fixing prices and imposing embargoes.

Now is the time for the administration and Congress to create a sound regulatory policy so that new mines in the United States can open without further delay. Only then will we be able to deal with the economic and security challenges of a carbon-affected world. The need for collective action is unmistakable.

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Despite Leaving Climate Group, Vanguard Adheres to Environmental, Social, Government (ESG) Dogma

Investment behemoth Vanguard may have decided recently to quit a net zero climate effort, but do not expect the Pennsylvania-based advisor group to walk away from all things environmental.

Economist Jerry Bowyer of Boston, Pennsylvania-based Bowyer Research says Vanguard has been quieter about the climate change political agenda than Blackrock, but Bowyer’s research shows Vanguard is “in many ways” a more consistent vote against fossil fuels.

“This political intrusion into finance violates the intention of the firm’s founder, John Bogle,” adds Bowyer. “The energy policy side may well violate Vanguard’s agreement with government regulatory officials to stop interfering with management decisions in this space.”

In short, Bowyer says Vanguard is supposed to be a money management firm, not an energy regulatory agency. The regulation of energy is what the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) Initiative involves. In fact, the very commitment that managers agree to is an acknowledgment that “there is an urgent need to accelerate the transition towards global net zero emissions” and for asset managers to help deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement. In signing on to NZAM, organizations commit to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C (‘net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner’).

“It also commits to support investing aligned with net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner,” says the commitment, which is available on

Vanguard, one of the world’s biggest mutual fund managers, announced its decision to quit the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) Initiative on December 7. Vanguard officials said they wanted to provide the clarity that its investors desire about the role of index funds and about how they think about material risks, including climate-related risks. Vanguard also wants to make clear that the firm speaks independently on matters of importance to its investors.

Vanguard’s announcement comes as members of the State Financial Officers Foundation and attorneys general have been holding large asset aggregators such as Blackrock and Vanguard accountable for environmental, social, and government (ESG) policies. Had it not been for these efforts, Bowyer thinks Vanguard would still be in the Net Zero group.

“It’s a victory, but a partial one,” says Bowyer. “Vanguard has shown no indication that is changing its policies one iota, and in announcing this change, it reasserted its commitment to fighting global warming.”

Vanguard’s statement says climate change and the ongoing global response will have “far-reaching economic consequences” for companies, financial markets, and investors, presenting what Vanguard considers a clear example of a material and multifaceted financial risk. Vanguard adds this change in NZAM membership status will not affect its commitment to helping investors navigate the risks that climate change can pose to their long-term returns.

“We will continue to provide investors the information and products they need to make sound investment choices, including products designed to meet net-zero objectives,” Vanguard officials said. “We will continue to interact with companies held by Vanguard funds to understand how they address material risks, including climate risk, in the interests of long-term investors, and we will continue to publicly report on our efforts with respect to climate risk, grounded in our deep commitment to our investors and their financial well-being.”

If you ask Bowyer, the only change announced here is that Vanguard will speak with an independent voice in the future. However, that says nothing about whether the independent voice will be any different from its past voice. Bowyer also doubts that Attorney General turned Governor-elect Josh Shapiro (D-Pennsylvania) will in any serious way challenge Vanguard on climate change. Like Governor Tom Wolf, Bowyer considers Shapiro a reliable left-of-center voice who represents Philadelphia regional politics and not the pro-fossil fuel agenda of the rest of the state.

Professor Burton Hollifield with the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University can see where Vanguard is coming from with this decision. Vanguard is owned by its funds, themselves which are owned by the fund investors. Therefore, Hollifield says Vanguard has a duty to produce high, long-term returns for their owners.

“Vanguard provides low-cost products to meet long term investment goals, offering many passive index products,” says Hollifield. “Their stated reason for withdrawing from the NZAM is that they want to provide clarity on their focus on how net-zero approaches can impact index products.”

Hollifield adds that long-term index returns reflect long-term risks faced by the economy as a whole. Meanwhile, Hollifield says climate change is an economy-wide risk. So, Vanguard has strong incentives to worry about climate risk for their funds. Pulling out of NZAM does not change that. Vanguard has strong incentives to work to manage long-term climate risks.

“That other investment funds remain in NZAM means that investors who decide to embrace the net-zero goals will still have access to competing products committed to that approach,” says Hollifield. “Competition may force Vanguard to change their approach in the future if the NZAM approach is the only way to deal with climate risks.”


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State AGs Accuse Vanguard of Pressuring Utility Companies Over Climate

Thirteen state attorneys general are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hold a hearing about the actions of Malvern-based investment company Vanguard toward utility companies in which it has invested.

The states, whose utilities use coal and natural gas, accuse Vanguard of kowtowing to climate activists to actively manage utilities it invests in to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, raising utility bills for consumers in those states.

In their complaint, the attorneys general for Utah, Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas allege Vanguard has gone back on its 2919 promises to FERC not to interfere with the management of these utilities. They ask that FERC hold a hearing rather than simply agreeing to approve Vanguard’s latest request for a three-year approval for an extension of its investments in utility companies.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro did not respond when asked if his office plans to join the complaint. Pennsylvania utility companies also use natural gas. And Pennsylvania produced some 7.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in 2021, second only to Texas, according to the U.S. Energy Atlas. The state is also third for coal production. It is also the second-highest exporter of energy to other states after Texas.

Vanguard has also been the subject of climate change protests.

“Vanguard, pursuant to its environmental commitments, has taken actions through its stewardship, engagement, and proxy-voting strategies to control the day-to-day operations of its portfolio utility companies in violation of the 2019 Authorization. For example, in its own publications, Vanguard warns its portfolio companies that it will support shareholder proposals that require the pursuit of climate risk mitigation targets and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions or other climate-related metrics,” the complaint said.

“Vanguard also engages companies in carbon-intensive industries to have risk mitigation targets that are aligned with the Paris Agreement and disclosure of progress against those risk-mitigation targets,” the complaint said.

Further, the complaint said, “Vanguard’s environmental mandates impose costs on its portfolio companies, and it is highly plausible that those costs are passed on to consumers directly or indirectly by hampering access to capital or foreclosing certain revenue-generating opportunities. A holding company of Vanguard’s size and influence should not be overlooked; to do so would be an abdication of the Commission’s statutory duty to safeguard the energy markets.

“Finally, we note that in joining (climate activist groups) NZAM and Ceres, Vanguard has engaged (and promises to continue to engage) in organizations that coordinate conduct with other major financial institutions, including BlackRock and State Street, to impose net-zero requirements on publicly traded utilities. This group effort to control day-to-day operations of public utilities raises serious concerns about the continuing efficacy of the 10 percent and 20 percent ownership limits imposed by the 2019 Authorization and the Office of Energy Market Regulations’ nine-month extension order.”

“As an investor-owned asset manager, Vanguard’s role is to promote long-term value creation for investors in our funds, leaving management and policy decisions to companies and policymakers. We look forward to working through the regulatory process,” said Alyssa Thornton, a spokeswoman for Vanguard.

Previously, she told Delaware Valley Journal, “Vanguard considers climate change to be a fundamental risk to many companies and their shareholders’ long-term financial success. As an investment manager and steward of our clients’ assets, we have a responsibility to ensure investors are aware of material risks, and that portfolio companies are taking the appropriate steps to manage and mitigate those risks on behalf of their shareholders.

“As such, we continue to address climate change risk by engaging with the companies held in our funds on their climate risk oversight, mitigation, and disclosures; through thoughtful investment products that help investors manage certain climate-related risks and opportunities; and, through engagement with policymakers, regulators, and other industry participants,” she said.

When asked to comment, Douglas Pyle, co-founder of Radnor Capital Management, said it is not unusual for investment firms to cater to clients’ wishes as far as avoiding certain industries. In the past, those shunned groups tended to be alcohol, tobacco, and firearms manufacturers. Now fossil fuels are deemed unacceptable by some investors.

“We have managed a lot of ‘socially responsible’ money, but the clients came to us and said, ‘Here are the things that we find objectionable,’” said “Pyle. “So, we would do it, but we would not do it for all of our clients, whether they wanted it or not.”

Pyle noted that investors can pull their money, which the state of Florida just did, withdrawing $3 billion from the investment firm Blackrock.

Asked if Vanguard has a fiduciary duty to make money for its clients rather than focusing on climate change activism, Pyle said, “I would say yes. But they must have alternatives for regular investment funds where that’s not a priority versus putting everybody into something that has those guidelines.”

With a workforce of more than 8,000 people, Vanguard is the largest employer in Chester County.

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KING: If You Want To Get Climate Serious, Get Nuclear Serious

If you have gasped in Dallas, sweltered in London or baked in Tokyo this summer, you will likely believe that global warming is real.

You are also likely to believe that governments — at least the caring ones — are desperate to cut the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from power plants and vehicles.

More electricity is needed to cut the greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks, buses, trains and, eventually, aircraft. The government figures that U.S. electricity demand will double by 2050, even as the fuels producing it change.

There are three technologies for producing new large quantities of electricity without producing greenhouse gases: wind, solar and nuclear.

Leading global energy institutions, including the International Energy Agency, are adamant that nuclear must be part of the future energy mix. Nuclear is desirable in many ways:

—It isn’t dependent on foreign supply except for some heavy components, like the castings for large pressure vessels. If needed in newer reactors, these can be acquired from reliable allies, including South Korea and Japan. Alternatively, we could reinvigorate our large component industry.

—When it comes to the supply chain, nuclear component manufacture can be brought on shore. It doesn’t have a Chinese component. Wind is dependent on rare earths — they are a multiplier in wind turbines, increasing output up to five times. More than 90 percent of rare earths are processed in China, even if they are mined elsewhere. It will take precious decades to replicate the Chinese rare earths infrastructure. Also, China dominates the manufacture of cheap solar cells.

—Nuclear offers long-term planning: The design life of a plant can be as long as 100 years. These plants are clean, safe — and getting safer. They have a high energy density and low land use, which contrast with solar and wind.

Incredibly, the world, outside of China and Russia, seems to have lost the ability to build nuclear plants. It is as though talent and institutional knowledge have disappeared. Those under construction are running many times over their projected costs and a decade or more behind schedule. They represent a systemic industrial failure, whether it is Plant Vogtle in Georgia, Flamanville-3 in France (which gets 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear; we get 19 percent), or Olkiluoto 3 in Finland.

At the heart of these failures — complex and far-reaching — is a failure of welds and a shortage of welders.

As a first step, the United States, in conjunction with the nuclear manufacturing industry, needs to find out what it is that we have lost in expertise and how to recapture it. We built more than 100 reactors in the 1960s and 1970s. There were some delays back then, but they were nothing like the catastrophic ones of today. Particularly, examining what has gone wrong with nuclear building needs to concentrate on welding. Is this an old trade that needs updating? Can we fix some of the human error that has plagued big industrial welding, from nuclear plants to new ships, through automation and AI?

Not since the 1960s, I am told by nuclear lobbyists, has the public policy apparatus been so aligned to favor nuclear. One of these lobbyists said, “Both houses of Congress are on board, the administration is on board, the regulatory agencies are on board, and public acceptance is greater than it has been in years. But the industry is on its back.”

The issue, to my mind, is not whether we can relearn how to do what we used to do but that there is no mechanism for the utilities to buy and build nuclear plants, whether they are the new generation of small modular reactors now under development or updated, large (about 1,000 megawatts), more traditional light water reactors. No utility can take the risk in the deregulated world. It is too much to ask.

The nation needs a coherent plan whereby a new generation of nuclear power can be built quickly. It has been done in the past, and it can be done again.

I would suggest — as I have suggested over many years — that nuclear needs government safety oversight, proliferation safeguards and approval that a tranche of reactors be built on government sites, financed by the government and sold to commercial consortia to operate. These needn’t necessarily be utility companies. Wind and solar are being developed by merchant companies in many cases.

There is a national climate crisis, and a national electricity crisis is building. Utilities are having to produce more electricity while giving up coal and gas to do it. Nuclear is the strong third leg of the future electricity stool.

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SCOTUS to Congress: On Environmental Policy, Do Your Job

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a strong message to Congress regarding regulating the nation’s environmental policy:

Do your job.

It’s a particularly important message in Pennsylvania, where the Biden administration’s expansive plans to regulate — and perhaps shut down — fossil fuel energy plants would have a significant effect on the state’s economy.

In West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency, the Court ruled 6-3 that the Clean Air Act does not give the EPA broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants on its own.

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion. “It is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.

“The agency must point to clear congressional authorization for the power it claims,” Roberts added.

Supporters of the Obama-era policy argue that the threat of climate change outweighs the limits on government power set by the court and they raised questions as to whether an elected Congress is capable of regulating such an important issue.

“Members of Congress often don’t know enough—and know they don’t know enough—to regulate sensibly on an issue,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent.

“The decades-long fight to protect citizens from corporate polluters is being wiped out by these MAGA extremist justices,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “It’s all the more imperative that we soon pass meaningful legislation to fight the climate crisis.”

Court supporters noted the irony of Schumer’s call for legislation, which was the conclusion of the court majority as well.

“It was incredibly risky for the federal government to try to turn our power-generating system inside out,” says Sam Kazman with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Today the Supreme Court ruled that if the government is going to do so, then it must be clearly authorized by congressional laws rather than by the dictates of unelected bureaucrats.”

Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, said the court’s ruling walks back its 2007 decision in Massachusetts v EPA.

“The Massachusetts case held that the EPA could use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” says Ebell. “The Court has now invoked the major questions doctrine and recognized that Congress designed the Clean Air Act to regulate air pollutants and not carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, natural gas, and oil.

“The Biden administration must now get explicit authorization from Congress if it wants to continue to enact major climate policies that will further raise energy prices,” Ebell added.

President Joe Biden has directed his legal team to work with the Department of Justice and affected agencies to review this decision and find ways that the administration can continue protecting Americans from what he calls harmful pollution that causes climate change.

“We cannot and will not ignore the danger to public health and existential threat the climate crisis poses,” said Biden in a press release Thursday. “The science confirms what we all see with our own eyes – the wildfires, droughts, extreme heat, and intense storms are endangering our lives and livelihoods.”

Former President Barack Obama also weighed in, saying no challenge poses a greater threat to our future than a changing climate.

“Every day, we’re feeling the impact of climate change, and today’s Supreme Court decision is a major step backward,” Obama tweeted.

But it was Obama and his team that pushed through a regulatory scheme, rather than passing legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions, that led to today’s ruling.

At the state level, Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Doug Mastriano is running as an unapologetic ally of the state’s energy sector. He has pledged, for example, to pull the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade scheme on his first day in office.  His opponent, Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro, has expressed doubts about RGGI but has kept his stance intentionally vague.

Environmental groups have denounced the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling this a dangerous decision that gives “coal executives and far-right politicians exactly what they asked for” by frustrating EPA’s efforts to protect communities and families.

“For years, EPA has had the clear authority and duty under the Clean Air Act to effectively reduce climate-disrupting carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuel-burning power plants, in line with the action the public and science demands,” said Andres Restrepo, senior attorney for the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program. “But Thursday’s decision accommodates the powerful instead of the people by seriously narrowing that authority.”

But energy sector advocates say their industry still isn’t out of the EPA woods of overregulation.

“While this decision clearly reins in EPA authority to craft carbon rules that force a remaking of the nation’s electricity mix, the agency has already signaled it’s going to use every other tool at its disposal to accelerate coal plant closures and pursue its agenda,” one industry insider told InsideSources. “If you’re concerned about grid reliability and electricity affordability, Congress needs to step up and ensure it is steering domestic energy policy, not the regulators at EPA.”

Still, some conservative groups are taking the win.

“This is a win for the climate and constitutional democracy,” says Drew Bond, president of Conservative Coalition for Climate (C3) Solutions. “Any serious person knows that innovation, not over-regulation, is the solution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Instead of looking to regulators to impose top-down mandates, Bond says activists on all sides should ask legislators to pass laws that encourage bottom-up solutions.

“Our Climate and Freedom Agenda highlights dozens of actions Congress can take to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovation and by expanding economic freedom,” says Bond about C3 Solutions. “Let’s put our focus there. American innovation won’t disappoint.”

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LOMBORG: The Fuzzy Math Behind U.N. Report on Global Disasters

A new U.N. report has revealed the disturbing news that the number of global disasters has quintupled since 1970 and will increase by 40 percent in coming decades. It finds that more people are affected by disasters than ever before, and the U.N. deputy secretary general warns humanity is “on a spiral of self-destruction.”

Astonishingly, the United Nations is misusing data, and its approach has been repeatedly shown to be wrong. Its finding makes for great headlines — but it just isn’t grounded in evidence.

When the U.N. analyzed the number of disaster events, it made a basic error — and one that I’ve called it out for making before: It basically counted all the catastrophes recorded by the most respected international disaster database, showed that they were increasing and then suggested that the planet must be doomed.

The problem is that the documentation of all types of disasters in the 1970s was far patchier than it is today, when anyone with a cellphone can immediately share news of a storm or flood from halfway around the world.

That’s why the disaster database’s own experts explicitly warn amateurs not to conclude that an increase in registered disasters equates to more disasters. Reaching such a conclusion “would be incorrect” because the increase really just shows improvements in recording.

You would think that the United Nations would know better, especially when its top bureaucrats use language that sounds like Armageddon is here.

Unsurprisingly, climate change is central to the U.N. agency’s narrative. Its report warns there is a risk of more extreme weather disasters because of global warming, so the acceleration of “climate action” is urgently needed. Somehow, the huge international organization has made the same basic fallacy that many of us do when we see more and more weather disasters aired on the TV news. Just because the world is more connected and we see more catastrophic events in our media doesn’t mean that climate change is making them more damaging.

So how do we robustly measure whether weather disasters really have become worse? The best approach is not to count the catastrophes, but to look instead at deaths. Significant losses of life have been registered pretty consistently over the past century.

This data show that climate-related events — floods, droughts, storms, fires and temperature extremes — are not actually killing more people. Deaths have dropped by a huge amount: In the 1920s, almost half a million people were killed by climate-related disasters. In 2021, it was fewer than 7,000 people. Climate-related disasters killed 99 percent fewer people than 100 years earlier.

The U.N. report does include a count of “global disaster-related mortality” — and manages to find that, contrary to the international disaster database, deaths are higher than ever before. They reach this conclusion by bizarrely including the deaths from COVID in the catastrophes. Remember, COVID killed more people just in 2020 than all the world’s other catastrophes in the past half century.

Lumping these in with deaths from hurricanes and floods inappropriately seems designed to create headlines rather than understanding, especially when the agency is using the findings to argue for an acceleration of climate action.

The truth is that deaths from climate disasters have fallen dramatically because wealthier countries are much better at protecting citizens. Research shows this phenomenon consistently across almost all catastrophes, including storms, floods, cold and heat waves.

This matters because by the end of this century there will be more people in harm’s way, and climate change will mean sea levels rise several feet.

One comprehensive study shows that at the beginning of the 21st century, around 3.4 million people experienced coastal flooding each year, causing $11 billion in annual damages. About $13 billion, or 0.05 percent, of global GDP was spent on coastal defenses.

If we do nothing and just keep coastal defenses as they are today, vast areas of the planet will be routinely inundated by 2100, with 187 million people flooded and damage worth $55 trillion annually. That’s more than 5 percent of global GDP.

But we will obviously adapt, especially because the cost is so low. That means fewer people than ever will be flooded by 2100. Even the combined cost of adaptation and climate damages will decrease to just 0.008 percent of GDP.

These facts show why it’s important that organizations like the United Nations deliver us the real picture on disasters. The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has bad form for making unfounded claims. Instead of headline-chasing with dodgy math and frightening language, the U.N. should do better — and it should be focused on championing the importance of innovation and adaptation to save more lives.

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