Rupert Darwall is a fellow at the RealClearFoundation and the author of two books: Green Tyranny, and The Age of Global Warming. In this episode, Darwall talks to Robert about his recent report on the pressure for companies to adopt ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles, the “weaponization of finance by billionaire climate activists,” why courts have become the favored venue for climate activism, and the “upside-down aesthetic” that is resulting in the deployment of large renewable-energy projects in rural areas of Europe and the U.S.
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. I’m the host on this podcast where we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And my guest today is Rupert doorwall. He’s a senior fellow at the real clear foundation. Rupert, welcome to the power hungry podcast. Glad to be joining you, Robert. Now, I didn’t warn you, Rupert. But uh, my tradition on this podcast is that guests introduce themselves. So I’ve given your title. But if you don’t mind, imagine you’ve arrived at you’re in London right now imagine you’ve arrived at a at a party of some kind, you don’t know anyone. And you’re given the opportunity to introduce yourself and you have 45 seconds.
Rupert Darwall 0:38
Robert, my name is Rupert doll. I studied economics and history at Cambridge University in England. After that I worked in the city in finance, first of all, in caught in as a stock analyst. And then in corporate finance, I then briefly served in the UK Treasury as a special adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Since then I’ve been freelance, working as a strategy analyst and I accidentally got it into global warming and environmentalism, which we can go into later. And I’ve written two books, the age of global warming and green tyranny. And my latest piece of work is a piece on ESG for the real clear foundation.
Robert Bryce 1:23
Right, and I want to talk about this capitalism, socialism and ESG. So well, I’ll say it. So it sounds like your career has been on a steady downward trend. You’re now in journalism. I mean, as you can you go lower than this, Rupert. I mean, that’s what we have put together. We’re in the ideas business, aren’t we? We are. Well, so let me start by you know, you mentioned your books, which I want to talk about the age of global warming and green tyranny. And I want to start talking about ESG. But before we talk about your your new report, which came out in May, it’s called capitalism, socialism and ESG. For the real clear foundation. What’s the most important environmental issue facing the world today? In your view?
Rupert Darwall 2:06
I think the most important thing is the environmental movement, which now encompasses the western world’s belief that to save the planet, we have to trash the environment, I really think this is this is, if you if you believe that the problems are global, basically, you will sack sacrifice the local. And actually what matters to people is preserving local habitats, local amenities, beautiful views, the preservation and conservation movements of the early 20th century, which have got completely lost in this messianic desire to save the planet. And so that, to my mind, is the biggest issue, I think it’s actually the crisis of environmentalism is it’s really lost sight of what it’s what it’s about, or should be about, in my view,
Robert Bryce 2:57
you know, you stay that very well. And in fact, I woke up in the middle of the night, the other night, and I jotted something down, it’s, it reminds me of this idea of, you know, it’s a meme or an idea that came out during the Vietnam War. And it’s been variously debunked, and so on, but we have to destroy the village in order to save it. And that’s what I see. I’ve written a lot about land use battles. And it frankly, just torched me up like a few very few other issues, but it’s exactly what you’re saying, Oh, well, to save the climate, we have to destroy the natural environment. Oh, and bats and birds? Oh, well, you know, they’re gonna get hurt anyway. So we’ll just never mind. But I really that does speak to me, I think you said it very well save one more time that the idea that we have to save the environment, we have to destroy it. How did you put it exactly?
Rupert Darwall 3:39
It’s when you when you when you elevate the global above the local, it’s as simple as that. I mean, it’s, it’s when you have these global concerns, and it actually, it sort of started happening in the late 60s and, you know, when, as all part of as the sort of 60s revolt, but the idea, and it and it moved from environmentalism, or it was that move from conservation, to Oh, well, to preserve these things, we actually have to change completely change industrial modern society, because modern society that’s causing the extinction of animals in Africa and stuff. And when you start thinking like that, you lose, essentially you lose the plot, you essentially lose the plot plot, and it’s basically politics, it becomes it becomes intensely ideological. I mean, the person who is very good on this was Prince Philip Baron and the late Prince Philip, he, he was one of the founders and he was very involved in the world World Wildlife Fund and its foundation. And he was into preservation and conservation. And he kind of he then turned against it when it became very much this environmentalist ideological outfit and he was against For example, He was against wind power, not not very well known his sons All in favor of that principle. It was against it. So it’s, it was An idea Lord something conservationism can highly ideological in the in the late 60s. And it’s really, it’s taken over. It’s the most powerful environmentalism is now the most powerful ideology in the Western world. And we just have to accept that and, and the first thing is to understand it. I think, Robert, you understand what we’re dealing with.
Robert Bryce 5:21
And that’s a really good point. And I interviewed Michael Shellenberger on the on the podcast a few weeks ago. And in his book, Apocalypse, never he identifies environmentalism as the dominant religion of the upper middle class elites are upper class and the elites in the West. And I think that that’s true. I mean, they’re just I don’t think there’s any denying that that there is a religious fervor about that. But I wanted to follow up on this because you’re in, you’re in London, you’re a Brit, where this conflict between the global and the local is the most obvious, I think, is in the land use battles in that you’re seeing in the UK over sighting of wind farms, siting of transmission cables, or transmission lines you’re seeing in Scotland, Ireland, all over Europe, in fact, is that am I? Am I missing something? Or is that what you say? Oh,
Rupert Darwall 6:03
no, I mean, it’s there are people who like, like the side of regiments of, of wind turbines across beautiful landscapes. And that, to me is the subjugation it’s the destruction of nature. But for a lot of people, it’s this really curious upside down to my mind sort of aesthetic, really. But in terms of what Mike Mike Shellenberger says, in my view, my view of environmentalism is at the one at the one at the same time, it’s more revolutionary than say, Marxism, because it wants to completely upend the means of production, it wants to destroy the means of production, whereas Marxism or socialism wanted to just changed the ownership of the means of production. But this is destroying about destroying or fundamentally changing the means of production in the modern economy. On the other hand, it’s very counter revolutionary because it wants to preserve the existing social hierarchies, which is why the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles is an environmentalist, is why you see super rich people being environmentalist, it’s actually about preserving the existing social order. So at one point, it’s economically revolutionary. And then on the others, it’s a permanent politically counter revolutionary because it’s a bad preservation of. And in fact, there’s Joe kotkin, I think, very persuasively argues, this is the new feudalism, right, which you see, especially in California, it is keeping poor people poor, it’s kicking ladder of opportunity, where it’s taking away from less well off people, middle class people, blue collar people, the aspiration of a better tomorrow. So in a way, it’s it’s very, it’s it’s a very anti debt, in my view, very anti democratic, and very, if you like counter revolutionary belief system, because it’s about keeping the rich, rich.
Robert Bryce 7:58
Well, you know, it’s good. I’m glad you mentioned Joel kotkin. He’s been on the on the podcast we talked about, about his his book, The coming of the new coming of Neo feudalism. And he’s reported very, you know, does some great reporting on on the issues in California, and I’ve followed California as well. But you’re right. I mean, all of these policies of decarbonisation that are California is clearly leading in that regard. They’re all regressive. I mean, in one way or another, where there it’s the Evie, Evie subsidies or the high price of electricity, high price of gasoline, they affect the poor and the middle class more than anyone else. And the elites, and I don’t like to use that word. But I think that’s the only right word here. They’re perfectly happy to subsidize and fund the big environmental groups who are pushing these very same policies. And I think that that helps lead right into your ESG report. In what you publish this, why is this book The report is called capitalism, socialism and ESG. You can find it on real clear politics.com or real clear energy. Why has ESG which is really being led by the corporate elites, why is this become such a powerful etiology in corporate boardrooms? I think the ideology I guess I’m this ad that exists.
Rupert Darwall 9:18
It is it is a sort of, yeah, I think it’s fair to call it that. It’s, I mean, Larry Fink. Larry Fink is quite open about it. He says this is necessary for a sustainable and inclusive capitalism. So there’s a project and one can call it an idealogue ideology or whatever. But this is not about it’s not fundamentally about finance. It’s about something else. And Larry Fink who’s CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest, he manages more more funds than any other fund manager in the world. And so this is this is a political This is a political project. Why do they do it? Well, there’s a there’s a desert, so it’s not trying But there’s always economic self interest involved. And it’s more fees. Basically, the ESG products, you charge a multiple of the cents per dollar under management compared to plain vanilla index jackery ft. So there’s, there’s that reason, I think it’s also to do with when you’ve made it, you can appeal to, you know, you then become the philosopher King, you want, wealth and power go together, when you’ve got wealth, you want to have power, and and it is about power. This is about ESG, as I said, I hope I’m analyzing the pamphlet in the report. It’s about a parallel government of parallel form of governance, with its capital in Wall Street. And it these, they want to take societal decisions, which are through proxy votes, and, and so forth. And we see that you know, the word capitalism and the way corporations are taking positions on voting laws in Georgia and so forth taxes, indeed. And so this is about it’s about the politicization of business, businesses becoming political. And a lot of the other thing, of course, is you’ve got state pension funds like CalPERS, CalSTRS, you’ve got the New York ones, who which are inherently political, because they’re being run by political bosses said, this is it’s politics by other means. I think it’s fair to say,
Robert Bryce 11:26
and why is that so dangerous? You underscore this in several points in your report, which is that was really eye opening. And I’ve followed the ESG business for a while, but I think you make a good case that for BlackRock and the fund managers will this is a way for them to charge. I mean, you point out, it’s 11x, you know, a greater fee, then, you know, it’s four cents per 100 per, per $100, I guess versus 46 cents, you point out at one point in the butt. Where does this go? I mean, I think this idea of this this politicization of business it, it goes to your point earlier about the concentration of it’s not just the concentration of economic power, it’s the concentration of the economic the decision making about where the economic power is going to be applied. Is that a fair assessment of what you’re saying? I
Rupert Darwall 12:11
think that’s fair. I think also, if you look at politics, that in a way, the voters have disappointed, you use the word the leaks. And concern, people of a conservative disposition have been have been very concerned about the growth of the administrative state, which is beyond the reach of democratic politics, although they are appointed by the executive, which is ultimately elected office. But the point about this is the corporatist state is beyond the reach of any democratic mandate. So it’s the lack of accountability is an enormous problem. And if we’re looking at the index trackers of BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, essentially, people put their money into an index tracker, because for very good reasons that there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that a broad base of highly diversified portfolio is the best way to invest, invest your money. But what effectively, Larry Fink has done is he’s taken that and he stripped your voting rights and those underlying shares, and he’s taking them to himself. You say you’re the proxies in those in that stock, you don’t vote them, I vote them on my values, and are my my priorities. That’s essentially that’s what
Robert Bryce 13:32
ESG does. And it allows these unaccountable unelected elected entities and individuals then to decide what qualifies under their litmus test for okayness or whatever, you know, that that passes the, the, the litmus test for ESG, whatever that is, but is as I’ve thought about ESG, as a metric, it seems to me it’s really just about carbon, it’s really ESG equals C is my equation is really carbon dioxide seems to be the only thing that they are looking at, am I am I missing something?
Rupert Darwall 14:07
I think they are looking at other things says that you’ve got the SEC is its carbon disclosures and its boardroom diversity of the two hot topics in there. But I think fundamentally incorrect, it’s really about, it’s about carbon dioxide. It’s about greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s a way of disciplining corporations to cut to align with the Paris Agreement and a net zero. And it’s about in a way it’s it’s a supply side construction is saying that to get to meet the Paris target, which actually wasn’t in the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was netzero in the second half of the of the century, not by 20 by mid century, not not an insignificant point, but it’s about if you like erecting a carbon blockade a blockade around the supply side of the American economy to squeeze out carbon intensive businesses. Now, there’s a huge floor in this, which is that unless you also cut demand for hydrocarbons, all that happens is your displacing production. And to his great credit, Jason bald often was a top trauma expert in the Obama White House has written a very powerful critique of this in, in foreign policy, which is well worth reading, and makes absolutely this point, you aren’t just just merely displacing I mean, so. So the production will either go to a publicly traded companies which have a more concentrated shareholder base, which might be smaller than that be more aware management as a bigger an afro Silicon Valley have these deals, stock deal class voting things to protect themselves and from shareholders can be private equity, but will also be state own state owned all companies. So all you’re doing is just shifting production around and you’re destroying very important that high value highly valuable Western all companies. I mean,
Robert Bryce 16:12
all in the things and board offs. point was that unless you cut demand, you’re not going to have a any significant change. Right? You’d lost me on right off. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.
Rupert Darwall 16:22
I mean, I would go further than him. And I’d say not only is it not sufficient, it’s not necessary, because if you can’t demand supply will shrink anyway.
Robert Bryce 16:31
Well, so Well, back to BlackRock, and think one of the questions I have here is so and I said, Why is the question was, why is Fink doing this? You think it just how much of it is his ability to play to the crowd, right? And say, Well, I’m doing something and how much of it is that he can make higher fees on the investments that he’s taking in? Or is it both? Or can you even I think it’s I think it’s not
Rupert Darwall 16:57
either or I think it’s just all these things. I think I think that’s a lot in his personal belief. I know, I don’t think he’s entirely cynical. I think a lot of this is the first, the Aspen program first talks about climate change in the late 1960s. So you’ve had this ongoing thing of businessmen should be involved in saving the planet or the environment or whatever and climate change, it’s been going on a very, very long time. And I think they believe it. And the thing, that what what I disagree with is they are imposing their views on the rest of us, you know, we, whether we like it or not, and, and also they they are in the business of not having debate on these issues. And we talked earlier about Steve kuhns book and how there’s no, and how the other there is no debate on climate science, that that debate is not allowed. And that’s where that’s where the science is settled. mantra is so I mean, debate is essential, both in science and in, in politics and, and in a democracy. And that’s what, that’s what we’re losing. That’s not what we’re not, that’s what we’re not having his debate. And I think that case, also with ESG, there’s very little debate on ESG, these things become very rapidly part of an unquestionable consensus. And like, you are a pariah, you know, there’s something morally unworthy of you, if, if this if you put a question mark over what good people are trying to do
Robert Bryce 18:39
that how dare you be a Philistine here and question what everyone else believes. Yeah. Yeah. When you’re trying to do good, or trying to expand the the permissible boundaries of discussion? Yes. Yeah. And it’s interesting that you because what you’ve said about earlier about this idea of destroying nature, that’s the part that to me. I mean, speaking of elites, and it boggles my mind, really. And it’s deeply disappointing to me to see so many reports being issued. So many reports by elite academic institutions, Stanford, Cal Berkeley, Princeton, saying, Oh, well, we can do all this net zero, all we have to do is just cover the, you know, all these states with a bunch of wind turbines and so and everything’s gonna be fine. And, and just, it boggles my mind to think Well, did any of these academics who were tenured and and making big salaries? Did they ever talk to a small town lawyer, a mayor or a small town Councilman, who, you know, in Scotland and Ireland and Britain in New York anywhere to say, well, Is this okay with you? What do you think about this? And instead, it seems like that agglomeration of power in the media and in the debate is being completely dominated by the urban elites and completely discarding the interests of urban urban land owners urban policymakers are saying rural will landowners, etc, that they’re completely forgotten here and that this power, this concentration of power isn’t just in the Wall Street institutions, it’s in academia as well.
Rupert Darwall 20:09
What is it that what you described in a way as well? Is the climate industrial complex? It’s its academics, its research institutes. It’s the NGOs. It’s the it’s the foundations. It’s the media with you who are very important enablers. It’s the politicians who who get who get get, you know, the wind power lobby you and they, they’re very powerful in DC, and I’m sure you’ve seen it in Austin, when after the white hat the blackout that they’re up there telling, telling politicians what, what they should do.
Robert Bryce 20:46
You beat me to the punch, because I was gonna ask you about the climate industrial complex, because you’re riffing off of the military industrial complex, the idea of Dwight Eisenhower, I think, that term in the 50s. Well, so is this is the power of the climate industrial complex, growing or shrinking. How do you assess its influence?
Rupert Darwall 21:07
Oh, I think it’s, I think it’s great, has grown is growing and will continue to grow. I was at the Paris Climate Conference, which happened in 2015. And it occurred just days, days before the Paris Climate Conference. The death was announced of I just need to look him up again. The death was announced of the the presiding genius of it more strong, died a few days earlier. In. He was I think he was in Costa Rica, because he was was it China. But he’d been basically in exile because he was involved in the Iraq cash for oil cash flow scandal and have been skimming that, and there was a, there was a very interesting meeting of people who had worked with him at the conference, which I went to. And one of his chief aides said, were at the Stockholm environment conference 1970. He said, Morris, what’s what’s, what’s the policy, and he said, the process is the policy. And that made me think the process is the policy. And it’s like, this is like rolling a snowball down a hill, it just gains, it just gets bigger and bigger. The farther it rolls down, the bigger it gets. And if you look at the UN Climate Conference, that way, it’s so they get NGO, they’ve, they bring in the environment ministers, they get NGOs in love, actually, they get you thing, and then they get business or in that you had a lot of businesses. And last year, the last one I went to was in Madrid, they got finance ministers in so the finance minister and before Glasgow, there’s going to be a there’s a good be a meeting of finance minister. So they get so they that is this agglomeration, it’s like this sticky, big snowball rolling down the hill, and it just gets bigger and bigger. And almost it’s less important of what it does is just the size of it. And it becomes self sustaining. It’s so big, it just has to keep rolling down the hill. I mean, that’s myself simplistic, but it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
Robert Bryce 23:30
A friend of mine, Chuck Spinney, who has been a longtime critic of the Pentagon and Defense Department spending in the United States calls it the self licking ice cream cone.
Rupert Darwall 23:40
Yeah. Well, they got generals and admirals, and whatever involved in that, and that climate change is the biggest national security threat of our age and that kind of thing. It just so then you get you get the national security elite sort of stuck into this.
Robert Bryce 23:56
So why do you care so much, Rupert. I mean, even as I can tell, you know, you care about this deeply. And you’ve written a couple of books, and you’ve obviously put a great deal of work into your report on capitalism, socialism, and ESG, which is available on Real Clear Politics. Why do you care so much?
Rupert Darwall 24:11
Because I think it’s because one stir, thinks I just see things going wrong, you know, you just see when I say going wrong, and also the that the lack of truthfulness, I think the lack of honesty, D. That would be in a sense we’re being we’re being taken or taken for a ride, that we’re not politicians, for example, in arguing for net zero, or not being honest with people and saying, look, if the scientists are right, and there is an F over that, but let’s say they are generation must make a big sacrifice for later generations. I would respect that. But they don’t say that what they say is, this is this is all about good paying jobs. That’s what Joe Biden says, and it’s utterly false. It’s utterly false. I think there will be a terrible price to pay when the truth and the truth always comes out eventually, reality. Reality intrudes so that I think there’s a big price internally for our democracy. But I also think there’s a geostrategic, there’s a,
Robert Bryce 25:17
and that loss is just the truth is being being lost in all this, that the the ferocious loss
Rupert Darwall 25:22
is being suppressed. This leaves me because we’re not having a debate when debate is not allowed. I think the other cost is a geostrategic one, if you like, that this is how the West loses to China, if you wanted, if the Chinese Communist Party wanted to script, to scripting, to get to their goal of in 2049, or the 100th anniversary of Maxi term seizure of power in Beijing, of how China to be the most powerful nation in the world. You you’d, you’d write in global warming and let the West just stick a stick a hose pipe down its throat and turn on the turn on the tap. Because that’s essentially what we’re doing. We are, we are destroying our ability to be to be strong, vibrant economies. And also, our elites are so obsessed with global warming as the biggest national security reality that they’re not thinking they’re not looking at what the real threats are, is the real threat, climate change, is john kerry things, or is it? Or is it superpower rivalry from from China? Because if you believe if you believe it’s climate change, he said, Well, we got to deal with it, we’ve got to do a deal. We’ve got to keep the Chinese on our side.
Robert Bryce 26:44
Well, and the corollary to that is that and you make a very impassioned point there is that this idea that we’re going to switch to alternatives, and I’ve gotten past this idea of calling them green, I’ve gotten past calling them renewal alternative energies, will then you’re handing the supply chain strategic advantage to the Chinese on virtually every commodity from manganese to cobalt and dysprosium, neodymium. I mean, you name it that the Chinese have moved in to control essentially all of the critical minerals, with maybe the exception of lithium and copper, and I think lithium, maybe they’ve got 70% share something like that. So it’s interesting that you talk about this, not just in terms of the, the our interest as investors and as voters, but really, as citizens of soup as a superpower saying, well, we’re going to cede our ability to mine hydrocarbons because of climate change, when the Chinese are saying, hey, that’s a great idea. Go ahead. Is
Rupert Darwall 27:46
that what you’re in my energies? Absolutely. It is. I mean, you think within a decade, are the United States gaining energy independence through the extraordinary innovations of hydraulic fracturing, and it’s just going to is basically going to outlaw that is just going to phase that out. I mean, is when you step back and think this is a form of insanity doing this, and yet for wall street, and what and that’s the other thing is with with Wall Street, of course, black rocks got, you know, it’s got huge interest sees China has a big market. I mean, that’s why it’s Silicon Valley, China, the biggest social media market in the world after the United, you’ve got all that sort of thing. So it’s the pressures to, to go down this route of a very great, but Stand back. And this is actually a fourth this is, this is how I don’t want to use of words of like committing suicide, but it’s, it’s a way of just weakening, weakening your, your national strategic, you know, geostrategic standing in the world, your ability to be the world’s strongest power, the most important part of the one that’s actually kept the pay since 1945.
Robert Bryce 28:57
Well, it’s interesting. You mentioned that issue about the about hydraulic fracturing because it is it is amazing. When you look back at what’s happened in the shale revolution in the United States, the increase just the increase in US oil and gas production is greater than the entire energy consumption of India. I mean, the the scale of what the United States has done in it since about 2005 2008. It’s truly staggering, the increase in in energy output and made us far less reliant on Middle East oil, etc. We’re not going to be a natural gas importer, or major gas exporter, and those are strategic issues. And it seems that the Biden ministration and i’m not i’m not a partisan, I don’t know I don’t consider myself a Republican or Democrat. Just that they they seem to not care about any of that because their their claim is that climate issues Trump everything and it seems to me that’s really is dangerous, as you say, a weak and purposeful weakening of our own position.
Rupert Darwall 29:56
Well, the it’s like, history has stopped. That’s what they’re setting is that history up to now has been about rival powers balance of power geopolitics. And all of a sudden, it stopped because saving the planet has has made, you know, is not just the most important thing, but all other nations see it as the most important thing. Well, they don’t. They don’t is a particular Western affliction, if you like.
Robert Bryce 30:28
Well, and but I saw Boris Johnson at the g7 meeting said something we’re going to build back better in a more. It’s hard to
Rupert Darwall 30:35
get a more general gender neutral, feminine way. I mean, I mean,
Robert Bryce 30:42
how could you even satirize that? I mean, it’s just it’s, it’s a self parody about? Oh, yeah, we’re gonna do this in a more feminine way. What does that mean? It’s like I think about you know, if I get a gallon of fuel for my car, well, it’s not male. It’s not female. It’s not weird. I do I care where it came from? Well, I care most about the price and it’s available. That’s the thing I really, really care about, is it gender neutral, the drive to call it day? There is a certain level of, of silliness to this is that, as you say is cheapening, our debate, our discussion, our identity about where we’re going, what we’re trying to do, and,
Rupert Darwall 31:21
but also what is really important, you lose focus on what is really, really important.
Robert Bryce 31:29
Which should be what?
Rupert Darwall 31:32
Well, I think it’s a strong economy and realizing the world is not full of friendly countries, and therefore you have to look out for yourself and look out for your values and look out for your allies. You know, putting it very,
Robert Bryce 31:44
very simply, which has been the way the we’ve done politics for decades, centuries for this is that you want to try and protect your interests. Right? Yeah. They’re permanent interests of countries. No, no permanent friends, they’re permanent interests, right. And those permanent interests or increase the health and welfare of your people and protect them from the outside threats, right. I mean, that is that the shortest way to put it up?
Rupert Darwall 32:08
That’s right. And it you mentioned, can you mention my book, green tyranny, and in that I look at one of the episodes I look at looked at is the nuclear winter scare of the mid mid 1980s. When scientists in America and the anti nuclear movement and a lot of the NGOs, basically virtually every single player in the climate movement was it was in the nuclear winter movement. And they were saying, they were arguing that the nuclear weapons freeze that the US should quit, its arms build up so forth. They held a conference in Washington DC, it had a direct line link into into the Kremlin, where they had someone from the Kremlin, I think he was a health minister or something Soviet health minister, who was all day. And it turned out that the nuclear winter scare had been concocted by the KGB to frighten the West as a tool to frighten the West, to try and get the western leadership which was not just Reagan, it was Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, who all wanted an arms build up to really to hold that hold the line on the Cold War. And they wanted to undermine that. And and what you had was scientists were basically on the wrong side of the Cold War. And, and Robert, the thing that gets me now is the scientists if you like, well, that sand scientist way of thinking is now run is the dominant paradigm for looking at the world’s problems. And they were so wrong in the past. They were wrong on national security in the mid 80s. In the 1970s, that we had, limits to growth, we have that debate, we had scientists in the UK sign signed, signed a document called it was called a blueprint for survival. And it said unless, unless we call unless the measures are made to suppress basically created a permanent recession. The modern civilization will come to an end within the lifetime of people that are living and that was in 1972. So you have a track record of scientists being wrong on these big if you like, historic, national questions they’ve been completely wrong. And what worries me you what was a V as you can see, I’m self motivated by is these people are now running the show, essentially, this this way of thinking is well, which is why you have Boris Johnson saying these absurd things that as he said, can’t be parroted,
Robert Bryce 34:42
build, build back, gender neutral and build back feminine build back. Yeah, it was. It was drizzle, truly remarkable. But there is in the scientists something that I’ve haven’t written this yet, but I’m going to this messianic climate ism, that they’re the They are the purveyors of the truth only they see the future clearly while we are not seeing it clearly, and the only way forward to your point back on to the Club of Rome, and the limits to growth is this idea that we need to be using less and doing less. And that that is the stated in a Yala. I mean, Bill McKibben, who is arguably the most famous environmentalist in America has said this very thing, we need to quit burning things, we need to quit all combustion, and we need to be using 1/20 of the energy that we’re consuming. Now we need to our way forward is to go backwards. That is the the message that I’ve heard over and over and again, and in the wake of the February blackout here in Texas, this has become a lot more personal to me and made me see it in a different way. But that but that’s weird. Seems to me when you’re even talking about it, that that’s where you’re fundamentally get riled up. And you know, that you really do get the bit in your teeth, as we would say, in Texas, about this issue that you’re, you’re you’re seeing a self inflicted wound, you’re seeing this self inflicted crippling of our of our system, this ideology, is that fair way to describe what you’re seeing?
Rupert Darwall 36:09
Yes. And also, it’s also that you democracy can’t be trusted that you need guardians to as as it were, limit, what can be democratically decided, and so forth. Because because they know they can’t pass a carbon tax. Is that Whitman? Is that it? Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. Because to avoid a climate catastrophe, various various things must happen and eat and the people and the vulgar plebs can’t can’t change their mind about it or shouldn’t have a say on it. I mean, it’s very interesting. The Swiss referendum on the on their climate law just got so the Swiss had a referendum essentially on the Paris agreement at the weekend. And it very narrowly lost. So the only vote there’s there’s been anywhere only referendum on the Paris Agreement. The Swiss voted, just it was 5149 against the proposal. Hmm,
Robert Bryce 37:08
that’s interesting. I had I hadn’t followed that. Well, so what about this idea to return back to your ESG report, and my guest is Rupert darwell. He’s a senior fellow at the real clear foundation. He’s the author of two books, green tyranny and the age of global warming, which are available at all fun booksellers. This idea of conscious capitalism I’ve had john Mackey on the show with inside the that business should do well, while doing good. How do you respond to that idea?
You’ve talked about this idea of the the weaponization Yeah, I’m reading from your ESG report, the weaponization of finance by billionaire climate activists, foundations and NGOs, threatens to end capitalism as we know it by degrading its ability to function as an economic system that generates higher living standards. So we’re going to be asking the question of provocatively should capitalism then have no, no, no, no guardrails? What, how do we guide capitalism toward ways that do well, do good? Or is that even should that even not be part of the discussion?
Rupert Darwall 38:12
Because capitalism as capitalism in toto is a system that innovates and is the only one that has been, as has been shown to, to have wave after wave of, of innovation? And it’s that innovation that has raised living standards in commensurate levels compared to what happened before? And and that’s ultimately what capitalism is not what capitalism is, is so much as what it does, that makes it legitimate, that legitimize it because if he stood back and said, said, How do you, how do you justify capitalism? Well, it’s because of, of the incredible outcomes, it’s delivered to, to humanity and lifting people out of poverty and lengthening our lives, giving us better lives and so forth. And that is not, that is not the conscious intent of a single businessman running a single comp, Corp Corporation. That is the effect of the dynamic of competition of corporations having to innovate, to stay in business, otherwise, their product lines become obsolete, and then, and the CEO loses his job. You become like Kodak, they have to innovate to survive. So it’s the dynamic of capitalism is the thing that has is absolutely essential to your standard of living into and to the west standing in the world. And my the argument the problem with ESG is if you if businessmen then what actually act like politicians say, well, we’re going to do good for communities and whatever it means that basically they’re going to say, well, when we do this, we’re gonna ask the politicians to protect our businesses from these from these competitors who aren’t so we won’t say public spirited our second one the cutters and these good things won’t happen. So overtime The competitive dynamic of the economy gets lost because corporations are looking to governments for special favors to protect them. And whatever we’re doing, you’re what you want. They say to politicians, they give us what we want, which is protection from competitors. So as you lose the dynamic of the competitive marketplace, so capitalism will atrophy, and then it’s very difficult to say, Well, actually, this is the best system. This this is assess a system that you can justify because it actually does extremely well for people.
Robert Bryce 40:31
So what you’re talking about, is it a friend of mine here in Austin, who’s also been on the podcast bill peacock calls? He doesn’t call it? crony capitalism. He calls it crony corporatism. corporatism, that is what you said there. I looked up just this morning this idea You talk a lot about authoritarianism and totalitarianism in in green tyranny. You talk about it also an ESG. But it was something that occurred to me that you again, were putting in print what I’d thought a lot about these ideas about climate activism and what’s happening here in America restrictions on the use of natural gas Well, you know, bans on natural gas, it’s limiting people’s freedom, and to do to choose the fuels that they want for their own lives. But it led me to look up fascism, which is a way overused term, I mean, just tremendously abused in terms of how often it’s thrown around. But in Britannica, it’s it calls it extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy, and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the desire to create a Vokes, mineshaft or people’s community in which individual interest This is the part would be supported subordinated to the good of the nation. It seems not exact a bit of fear closer prompts approximation to what we’re seeing with what you’re talking about, is this subordination of what individuals want what’s good for them for the greater good. But then that that down that it seems like a very slippery slope, because of this little elevation of the corporate bosses to deciding what’s good for us, instead of letting us is that? Am I off track?
Rupert Darwall 42:11
I think that’s, I think that’s, I think that’s right. And I also think the reason why the climate debate has not been settled, or arguments about climate policy have not been settled. And I don’t think November the third last year settled. net zero in America is because the United States has a constitution and a foundation, which is about it. Fundamentally, it’s about individual liberty within an ordered constitutional ordered system of laws and so forth. That is very unlike Europe, where Europe is we don’t have that. And the climate debate is over. There is no political essentially, there is no political party, which is opposed to the Paris Agreement and appears to net zero, and you have a far more collectivist, it means you have a far more collectivist mentality, or one that’s vulnerable to collectivism. So I think I we meant when I mentioned Switzerland, I mean, switch to the other is the other country, which has got a deep, deep, deep tradition of democracy and referenda and obtaining people’s consent for for changes. So I think the US and Switzerland are, are unique in that regard. And that’s why I think one can be optimistic, although things in a way on the climate front might look bleak. When you have net zero people running, running the executive, I think, you know, to that you’ll have midterm elections next year, another general election, two years after, and American politics is flux. And there is this fundamental belief in individual rights and also states rights. How do you impose this stuff on on individual states?
Robert Bryce 44:06
I think you make a good point. And it’s one that I’ve been thinking quite a lot about lately, in that my last guest on the podcast was Dave Shriver, he’s with the American public gas Association. I didn’t know until I dumped him there a 1000 1000 small, relatively small, natural gas utilities in the United States. Well, there are 2000s of publicly owned electric utilities and 900. cooperatives. How are you going to put you’re going to put all of them out of business? Are you gonna make them all towed to a federal line? I think your point about states rights and local rights. I think those are very well, it. I think you’re on on the right track and seeing how those politics will the politics of those organizations that are funded their economic and political power will prevent any mass movement to these these claims about net zero. So let me let me ask a question about net zero. Is it even possible that we would go to emit zero co2 by 2050 Is this even doable?
Rupert Darwall 45:03
I think I don’t think it is. And I think in a way, it’s that slow and not misses the point. But I think by going on about net zero literally well can miss the point in the corporate world, which is this is about. A lot of it is about offsets. So you’ll have people like Mark Carney, who was the former governor of the Bank of England and former US before that is that he was the ran the Canadian central bank. And he will say, No, net zero is impossible. But the way out for having imposed net zero on on corporations, here’s your get out of jail card, only, it’s the offset, and you’ve got to pay me you got to pay the middleman for the offset. So what you’re doing is creating a huge offset market, of course, who the players are going to benefit from this, but it’s Wall Street again?
Robert Bryce 45:59
Well, and there’s a lot of questions were in these carbon credits, carbon offsets, even work and my first book was on Enron. So I mean, I set up some market, that’s going to be perfect. And we’re going to solve all this because the market is gonna ride to the rescue. But the sounds like to me is that the the traders are going to make a lot of money and the individuals are going to get screwed. That’s just the history of the business. Do you see it the same?
Rupert Darwall 46:23
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Right. It’s it’s like so for, for the efforts for a blue collar worker in a in agriculture in the petrochemical sector, or steel concrete, basically, their work will have to pay a toll to a for carbon offset, that their work will be taxed. And it will go to said, Vice Chair, there was an article last week in the Financial Times by the vice chair of Bank of America, praising net zero because it’s create these carbon offsets. And the offset shouldn’t be in the form of just in the form of planting trees. It should be into funding technological solutions to decarbonize and it talks about blended finance solutions, blended finance solutions. Oh, there we are, there’s there’s a nice idea to run with it. So you can see exactly where this stuff you can see the dollar signs also coming. That’s where it’s heading, Robert.
Robert Bryce 47:21
Well, let’s go back to that because I noted that it was last November, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said we need to here’s an exact quote reimagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty inequality and climate change reimagine economic systems that I’ve heard the same thing from environment you know, the the very, the extreme leaders of the climate activism movement saying that very thing Naomi Klein Oh, and and this whole idea of build back better will. It’s there’s there’s it smacks to your earlier points about anti capitalism that there is and you talk about this in ESG, as well, that there is a anti capitalist base for a lot of this rhetoric and that they’re in green tyranny. You talk about some of these things, same things about the anti capitalist and even totalitarian roots of some of these ideologies that are being pushed now including you make the point about the Nazi swastika and solar and the Green Party in Germany that there’s some there’s some roots there in this in anti business and and Pro. Well, I’ll just how anti, how much is anti capitalism at work, I guess, would be the simplest question at work and all of this climate activism?
Rupert Darwall 48:36
Well, if the IPCC netzero report has a line in there saying net zero is the offers the opportunity for societal transformation?
Robert Bryce 48:49
And this is IPCC not
Rupert Darwall 48:51
the IPCC, right? This is the IPCC in the netzero report. So that is a clear ideological statement. I think the other thing I mean, you mentioned green tyranny, and, and the greens, the the German greens in there, and their antecedents, they’re sort of very unpleasant antecedents in the 1930s and 40s. And one of the big things that we haven’t talked about the greens came into being the German greens came into the beans into being in 1980 in Germany, in response to mass demonstrations against civil nuclear power. And one of the questions is, at which is absolutely right to ask is, when you’re against, you’re against fossil fuels, you’re against carbon dioxide emissions, and so forth. So why are you against nuclear because Nika was obviously windmills, wind farms and solar farms as you know who crazy idea crazy crazy stuff. And the reason is very simple because the German greens came into being as a as a In opposition to nuclear power, it was very much a German, it was a sort of to do with German culture, German ideas, German ideas, which had one can also see in, in Nazi philosophy, which was very anti nuclear. And so, and the German greens have always been more opposed to nuclear power than they have been to greenhouse gases. So that’s, you know, one of the reasons why we’re lumbered with this extraordinary stuff of, of wind farms, when this stuff took off in 1988. at the Toronto climate conference, do 1988, the same month, incidentally, as James Hansen sits in a senate testimony, the answer they was thought to be nuclear power, and quite easy. It’s, you know, it’s quite feasible to, to replace coal fired power stations nuclear power, but that wasn’t, you know, that’s hardly happened anywhere, Finland, they got to, I think one or two, we’re trying to build one in the UK, but they’re closing nuclear power stations, the United States, I mean, absolutely terrible thing to do, in my view, to close a nuclear power station before it’s laughing spar is just incredibly wasteful. Because you want to close you can’t reopen it.
Robert Bryce 51:16
It is forever. It is incredible. At the same moment. And in essentially the same time when the Biden administration is calling climate existential crisis, the Indian Point nuclear power plant was shuttered. And we’re looking at the closure of the Byron and Dresden plants in Illinois as well this year, and the combined output of those plants, those three plants before the closure of Indian Point, it’s equal to all of the solar and wind production in California, all of it, and yet, you’re gonna shut it down just because oh, well, you know, as nuclear, we don’t like it. And you know, we want renewables. Well, wanting renewables and reducing co2 are not the same thing. They’re entirely different goals.
Rupert Darwall 51:54
Well, I mean to you, what is this, this is this is this is non rational, this there is not a rational explanation for being anti nuclear, it’s to do with culture and ideology.
Robert Bryce 52:07
And where does it go, though? I mean, that’s the part that I still puzzle over is what that in the end goal here is, is there an end goal? Is there something in the minds of the the anti nuclear climate activists who are pushing this so hard? Do they have an end in mind? And if so, what is it?
Rupert Darwall 52:24
I think I think there’s a fracture in the environmental movement on the one in a way it’s sort of kind of split I in a way into three there the might Schellenberg is Nico modernists, who, who kind of left it all together and look back on it and say there are mistakes there. And in a way, they are reinventing environmentalism in a in, I think, in a highly intelligent and sympathetic way. But the core of it has split between, if you like, the climate industrial complex crowd now, I’d include McKibben in that. And on the other hand, you’ve got Michael Moore and his movie Planet of the humans was very, very interesting, because it’s basically saying, look, the mainstream environmental, this pro win pro solar power is actually destructive. Therefore, we got to retreat to even less we’ve got to sort of shrink humankind’s footprint even. And then you’ve got, then you’ve got the mainstream, if you like the corporatist ones are very much in tune with given the our goals and whatever in that, which is where ends, I don’t know, but it’s about it’s about their huge flows of money through it. It’s in my view, it’s unsustainable. I mean, it’s there will come a point of reality intruding that it runs, but it will carry on for as long as for the foreseeable future. But the end point? I don’t know, Robert, I just know it’s not sustainable. Well, it’s
Robert Bryce 53:52
interesting you say that about the money, because that’s one of the things I’ve done, you know, as you know, I live here in Texas, and I’ve written this that there were $66 billion was spent on solar and wind in Texas in the years before the blackout 66 billion. And of that, and Bill peacock, I mentioned bill earlier, he just issued a report, something like $22 billion of that was in the form was given to big wind and big solar in the form of subsidies. So I mean, what other business can you get a, you know, the government to give you a third of all your investment capital, I mean, is truly remarkable. But to your point, it was immediately after the blackouts, big wind and big solar said, Well, don’t blame us Don’t blame us. Well, where did the you know, follow the money? That’s the oldest maximum politics and yet, somehow they’re not to be blamed because they’re renewable. And we didn’t expect them to produce very much Well, we didn’t expect very much out of them. Why are we spending so much money on? Yeah, oh, well, there’s the answer. It’s because of the money flow. It’s not about it’s not it’s ultimately I’m convinced it’s not about the climate, it’s about the flow of money. And that’s games. He really underscored that in your in your ESG report.
Rupert Darwall 54:56
Yeah, I think all aggregate so so you can say no We’re doing the right thing we’re saving the planet, whether it’s been led to climate catastrophe planetary saving the planet is the biggest form of moral blackmail you can find, isn’t it? Because and if you’re opposed to it, you’re you’re saying, well, you’re putting the planet at risk. And your but what what you have asked, Where does this end? I think one of the problems, the reason why people get away with really we mentioned Boris Johnson is is is feminine recovery and building back battery and so forth, is that there’s no because there’s no push back. Because there’s no given take. There’s no debate, it just means that the rhetoric, and the policy solutions get more and more, more extreme. Because if you’re sitting around the table, no one’s gonna push back and say, when someone comes up with the most extreme ideas, and that’s not practical, it’ll cost a lot. Well as the planet was about saving the planet, there’s no kind of note and no cost is too high. And no cost is too late. So you can’t have pushback, because then you’re questioning the whole fundamental basis. If you’re questioning the whole basis of the thing, if you’re saying, well, hang on, let’s moderate this a bit. There is no place for moderation in this debate. That’s that’s that a moderation by that? I mean, not just moderation in terms of there’s one side and there’s another and it’s moderated, but also moderated in terms of moderation in terms of sensible middle of the road road pragmatism.
Robert Bryce 56:29
I agree. I think that’s a really good point. And it’s one of the things about the rhetoric, we were talking about that earlier about, oh, climate catastrophe, climate crisis with this is the most important thing wherever we’re going to face the biggest challenge humanity’s ever face, you quote in green tyranny. You quote Obama making that very point? Well, then if that’s the case, then no cost is too high. Right. But you have this extreme rhetoric at the same time you’re closing nuclear power plants. Well, which is it, then? I mean, if this is the the key issue, then why isn’t the action matching the rhetoric? And that’s where I get cynical about it, frankly, because I think, well, then it’s really not about climate, it’s about the cash, that and that, that becomes the motivating factor here, that the climate discussion becomes the excuse for this allocation of billions, trillions of dollars even I mean, I was just looking at a report from Carbon Tracker, well, it’s only going to be you know, $3 trillion, $3 trillion, is a lot of money, and who’s gonna pay and those are the things that I keep coming back, who’s gonna pay? So let me ask that, who ultimately pays for this, then this lack of your because your work on green tyranny, your new report on ESG? It comes with a cost who pays?
Rupert Darwall 57:40
Well, we do. And the West ultimately pays. And one of the things we haven’t talked about is, is the developing world, the non Western world. And, Dave, you may remember the the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009, December 2009, Hillary Clinton put down she was gonna sorted out when she made the promise of 100 billion US a year for climate finance. And that’s 100 billion is still meant to be there. It hasn’t actually materialized. But it’s just far too little. Because to make good for the developing world, for India, which consumes its per capita, per capita, I know you’ve written a lot about this, India’s per capita consumption on production of electricity is about 1/5 of that, that of China’s and to enable India to have cheap, reliable electricity, they’re going to need, they’re going to need a trillion, they’ve not got 100 billion across the whole developing world isn’t enough, even just render alone is going to have to be a trillion trillions. And the money’s not there. Even in these inflated times where you have infrastructure bills going through Congress of which you’ve got these eye watering tickets on the inflation of monetary amounts is just we’ve talked about the inflation of rhetoric, but it’s also the influence the monetary inflation, it’s just there’s not going to be enough. The resources, the resources, there aren’t enough resources to do this.
Robert Bryce 59:14
Well, it’s and I think you’re right, it’s not just and it’s not just the monetary resource, it’s the copper, it’s the land is the steel is the concrete, it’s all of these things that are going to be required because of the inherently low power density of renewables compared to the incredibly high power density of nuclear and natural gas. I mean, you know, the IAEA has done their own reports on these minerals and, and, and the material intensity of these, these energy technologies. But let’s talk about the recent g7 meeting, because I’m glad you brought up the issue of the developing world because, as I see it, and as I wrote in my new book, and in my documentary juice, that really the fundamental inequality in the world today is around electricity and electricity availability. But here’s what the g7 the The group of seven states pledged in their recent meeting, that that they would stop new government support for coal plants abroad. Without capture, without carbon capture and storage by the end of this year, they did not provide an end date I’m quoting from axios axios here did not provide an end date for their coal use domestically, this could reduce their leverage with China. There’s your statement of the more you’re kidding. Oh, it’s gonna undermine their leverage with China, because United States is gonna quit coal. And I don’t think some of these other not gonna quit coal, but China’s built 30 some odd gigawatts of coal fired capacity in 2020. alone. But but the long intro to the question that this idea of we’re going to prohibit finance of hydrocarbon projects in the developing world because they can’t use the same technologies we used, which are we shutting the door after ourselves and saying, No, you may not is that the gist of it?
Rupert Darwall 1:00:52
Well, it’s, at the same time, the g7 says, and President Biden says, We want to compete with China on infrastructure. Okay, you ban fossil fuel, hydrocarbon projects in the developing world? And if Western banks are prohibited from financing them, who’s gonna finance them? Well, Beijing will. So you’ve absolutely lost, you’ve absolutely lost the competition, which you said, we’re going to compete with China, on infrastructure, and you just you’ve given you’ve given the game away to the to the CCP. I mean, is it’s, it’s just stupid. I mean, well, I shouldn’t say it’s just plain plain stupid, not thought through. Because they can’t see that hot hydrocarbon energy. They can’t accept hydrocarbon and the efficiency, the laws of physics and chemistry and economics to do with with with fossil fuel production.
Robert Bryce 1:01:52
I completely agree that contempt for hydrocarbons is is is really unfathomable in some ways, but then this is the kind of the religiosity around the debate. But this is something that that is underway in particularly in Europe. What do you what do you think of the recent? Well, one of the examples of this, I would call it persecution harassment of the of the major hydrocarbon companies, what do you make of the Royal Dutch Shell court ruling that that it seems to me they’re an even a worse place now than Exxon Mobil in terms of recent activism against them by well funded environmental groups? What What do you think this? This is? Where does Royal Dutch Shell can’t work? its way out of this, how do they even manage to try and become a company that they’re not?
Rupert Darwall 1:02:34
Well, I think he’s incredibly is that is genuinely existential for sure. And it’s the really bad thing is not so much the climate activists, it’s the it’s the judicial activists, it’s the activists on the bench who made the ruling. And they invoked the European Convention on Human Rights. I think it’s article eight, there’s an article which says, guarantees the right to family life. And they use that article to say that shell had to decarbonize its business more rapidly, the right to family life. Now, if that isn’t judicial overreach, you know, I can’t I can’t think of a terror case of judges essentially usurping the legislative and political functions. There’s there’s decisions that should be taken by elected politicians, but they’re not they’re being taken by by a court. And that’s it really, unless they get a shell will try and appeal it. But it could well lose.
Robert Bryce 1:03:34
Well, and but then we’re there we’re there. You know, where their allies if they tried to, you know, appeal this or get some governmental support or they even get a find any support. That’s the thing that it seems to me is that they don’t the big hydrocarbon producers, I don’t like to call them fossil fuel companies because hydrocarbons is more descriptive and less kind of suggestive that they’re not being used or they’re old somehow, but they don’t have many friends. I mean, in in high places, they don’t have many places in friends on Capitol Hill. They don’t have many friends in the in the European Commission, where is this? You said it’s an existential threat. Is it really that serious for them?
Rupert Darwall 1:04:14
Yeah, I think it is because the problem with the Dutch with with is is the the Dutch government also lost a case and it’s had to increase it. Its commitments to decarbonisation. The German government lost a case to its in its constitutional court, or a suit was brought for from by some people who are living in the in on the Baltic and said their livelihoods were threatened by sea level rise and they took took the German government to court and it went up to the German Constitutional Court which ruled in their favor and it instructed the government to accelerate its decarbonisation program. So you’ve got these are two countries important countries in Western Europe where the courts are now taking the lead in terms of climate activism. In a way, it’s very easy to blame person I’m inclined to do is blame climate activists, but the real, the real people who’ve met judges who’ve become climate activists, and there’s very little, there’s very little that can be done.
Robert Bryce 1:05:20
Well, so then where does this end up? Because I hear in your voice Rupert, and your, your passion for this, and you’ve obviously been writing quite a lot about it. You care deeply about it. But I get the sense of some very deep frustration and resignation that you think there’s not much that can stop it, what can stop it, we need? If you’re right, then people who care about liberty, they care about economic development, who care about development in the third world, they should be really, really active now and saying, No, this is craziness. We need to do something what what should people like me be doing?
Rupert Darwall 1:05:57
Well, Rob, exactly what you are doing, I think the most fundamental thing is in, in his debate in public understanding. And when I think basically the the the, the climate activists in Western Europe, the climate activists, to all intents and purposes of one and the defeat, will will only come when it really comes up against reality, and that we find that there might be blackouts or the costs, that the costs become too high. I think the situation in the United States is very, very different. So I don’t want to sound pessimistic on that. I think there is all to play for the United States reasons I’ve gotten from fundamentally because of a belief in Liberty, and divided government, the states and so forth. And I think the judiciary is of is of a higher quality than that in the Netherlands and Germany, several. So I think there is all to play for in the United States. And I should say, I mean, I would add the But no, no help coming from the large, the big oil companies. I think they’re sort of I think they’re just, they’re just items on the menu for the climate activists. But I think you’ll be from individuals, I think it’d be smaller. Fracking companies, it will be farmers who realized that netzero basically means that their their pasture is going to be given over to biofuels, and to enter forests and trees and so forth, I think at local communities pushing back against wind farms is going to be like that in the United States. And then there are elections and their elections every two years. So there’s, there’s there’s a battle to be fought and won in the United States. I have no doubt about that.
Robert Bryce 1:07:42
So you’re more as a Brit, you’re more bullish on the US than you are on Britain.
Rupert Darwall 1:07:48
Yeah, I suppose I am. I think it will. I yeah, I do think i think i think the battle is over here. For the time being that will that could well change. I mean, it’s it’s a bit like Brexit. I mean, for years that there wasn’t, something will happen, something will happen. I can’t foresee what. But I think something will happen, because reality eventually catches up with you will will say as well, cb built the nuclear plant you
Robert Bryce 1:08:13
mentioned earlier, will that be built?
Rupert Darwall 1:08:18
I think it’ll have to be done in a different way from what’s being contemplated, I think it will base I think it can be built. If the government is desperate for it, it will eventually say, well, we’ll just put it on our own balance sheet or create an off balance sheet vehicle. And and because
Robert Bryce 1:08:34
it seems they just can’t quite make up their mind, or they just they can’t come to a decision on that for whatever reason.
Rupert Darwall 1:08:41
Yeah, I think that’s fair. I mean, if it were, if the government really wants it is possible to do it, because you just say we’re going to do it ourselves, essentially. And we’re just going to pay the contractors to do it.
Robert Bryce 1:08:53
Well, or the land use issues, the ones that may be ultimately one of the deciding factors there. Because it seems to me that that’s the it’s become the binding constraint on a lot of projects here in the United States, particularly New York, California. Is that going to be the because you can’t expand renewables in the way that are needed. As David jc mokai pointed out years ago, I mean that, particularly in Britain, you’re very land constrained. So you’re not going to be able to build up the capacity that would even come close to supplanting hydrocarbons. Is that going to be one of the that’s the
Rupert Darwall 1:09:23
that’s the offshore dream that that’s that that’s why they’re going offshore with it.
Robert Bryce 1:09:28
That’s what we could call it the offshore wet dreams. This is water. But let me ask you a few other things, Rupert, and you’ve been kind with your time that the you said at the end of your ESG report, is that this idea of the weaponization of finance and it constitutes a potential potentially lethal strategic move, when they would in capitalism as we know it, is it really that dire, do you think?
Rupert Darwall 1:09:58
Yes, I think it is. The title of the report is, is a play on the book by Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian American economist, capitalism, socialism and democracy which was written I think it was in 1944. And in that Schumpeter foresaw, or he set out a process by which capitalism would over time, turn into socialism. And there are two legs to his argument. One was economic, which I don’t think is held up. But the other in the more important, which I think is holding up is to do with his culture and sociology. And, and that is that if you like, the cultural elites become ashamed of capitalism and private property, and everything, but over time, become socialized. And the argument essentially, in my ESG paper, is it we are seeing that process, and ESG, if you like, is the mechanism by which that happens. Now, I think it’s possible for it to be turned back, because for example, it’s possible for people to say, Well, I want to invest in index trackers, but I don’t like Larry things politics, and therefore there’s, if you like a consumer reaction, I think that’s possible. I think it’s also possible that Republicans on the Hill, who are very aligned to this, I’m very impressed with people like Senator Toomey are really on the case they fully understand what’s going on. And so I think there could be political pushback. And if the senate goes the other way, in the next in the midterms, I think these so I think, these things, but one can see if a mechanism by which capitalism becomes when you use the words of corporatism. And it can evolve into that quite an ESG is part of that mechanism. But I think there’s all everything to pay for to stop that happening.
Robert Bryce 1:12:03
What, what do you think of the electrify everything movement?
Rupert Darwall 1:12:09
Well, I think what you put in one of your articles, that’s, that’s great until the electricity system collapses, and you find you’re left without any power at all. I mean, just in terms of the redundancy, resilience, and the colossal increase in generating capacity. I mean, it’s just you step back, and you think this is just, this has been pushed for all the wrong reasons. This isn’t this isn’t an evolution of market need or innovation. It’s, it’s kind of top down ideological pushing smart grids and so forth, which turn out to be ones that you can’t, you can’t keep keep up when when they’re really needed. I like that I
Robert Bryce 1:12:51
will I what popped in my head when you said there was ideological energy, not market driven energy, or Yeah, right, that that, that I like that. What’s it let me just step back then from well from that, and just zoom out for a second. So in talking with different philosophers, different people that I know that, you know, there’s this idea, well, what’s the one thing? So what’s the one thing when you boil down your recent work in terms of I mean, if I were gonna say, what’s the one thing that I want people to understand about energy and power systems, I’d say power density. If you can understand power density, then the rest of this starts to make sense for you. That’s kind of my would be what I would say is my one thing lately. You’re thinking about what you’re writing here on green, and your book creme green tyranny, or the age of global warming, or you knew capitalism, socialism, and ESG report? What’s the one thing you want people to take away from your work?
Rupert Darwall 1:13:42
I think it’s ultimately about freedom.
Robert Bryce 1:13:48
Rupert Darwall 1:13:49
because the net zero project cannot be accomplished within the structure of a constitutional republic, where powers are separated and delineated between three branches of the federal government and between the states and where individuals have very strongly ascribe rights that simply cannot happen. So essentially, this is netzero is about societal transformation is about political transformation. And for the US to preserve what I think makes it such an incredible and unique and powerful country because it because yeah, is fundamentally based on an idea of freedom. For netzero, to succeed, it means that conception of the United States really has to be extinguished. So I really do see I do you see it in terms of fundamentally about freedom.
Robert Bryce 1:14:53
What are you reading these days?
Rupert Darwall 1:14:57
Actually, I’m Meredith angwin. ‘s book. Oh, On the grid,
Robert Bryce 1:15:02
which I have, right here, and yes, Meredith has, I just think she hung the moon, I probably sold as many books of hers, as I have in mind. And rightly so she’s just remarkable individual and dedicated to the ideas that she’s putting out there, which I think are really quite important and becoming more so particularly in the wake of the California and Texas blackouts anything else you reading these days?
Rupert Darwall 1:15:26
The last book, among the last books I read was, it was called Memoirs of a European. And I, it made me and it’s written by a Jewish Austrian novelist, and it’s about the memoirs of growing up in late 19th century Austria and the First World War and the becoming of that interwar period and the rise of the Nazis and so forth. And it triggered it triggered some thoughts in me, because what what struck me was the youth it following the collapse of the Austrian Empire, in 1918 1919, there was this great surge of youth rebellion, rwf Youth revolution, which he describes very, very, very big series, novelists. He describes it in a very compelling way. And it made me think, why are young people not revolted? Why aren’t they rebelling against a society in many ways, many ways, they’ve got great things going, you know, it’s a very comfortable society. But on the other hand, through COVID, they feed the younger generation of being the generation of being completely shortchanged and treated, terribly shabby way, in my view, and why why are they accepting and and then I, the penny dropped? And I asked the question, is climate change a tool of social control? Is this a way of taking disempowering young people from seeing society as it is, and seeing their place in it and how perhaps, they’re being as I say they’ve been, they’ve been shafted? And because if you say to young people, climate change is the biggest, biggest threat in our world. And it’s you who are going to suffer most from it, and we’re doing everything to solve it. We’re on your side, it actually removes, if you like that the causes for them from staging, revolt, and also wrote, so I wrote this up, I’ll send it to you are ready to jump for real, real clear and said is, it’s time to change a tool of social? Why was it the 19? In 1968, you had a Ruth, youth rebellion and so forth. There’s nothing now like that. Nothing. I mean, there’s an empty furnace up in their snow. But why are young people so acquiescent? Well, it’s because Greta tunberg is saying climate is the biggest, biggest threat, it’s actually taken away their ability to revolt, and to, in fact, be dynamic, because what they’re hearing is, Larry thinks on your side, President Biden or the new we septuagenarians are on your side. And it kind of takes away a motive for the change and dynamism.
Robert Bryce 1:18:07
And haven’t thought of it in those in those terms. And I think you stated very well. Well, one of the other things that I’ve just a couple more questions were because we’ve been going on for more than an hour now. And my guest is Rupert darwell. He’s a senior fellow at the real clear foundation. He’s the author of a new report called capitalism, socialism and ESG, as well as two other books, green tyranny, and the age of global warming. I haven’t read age of global warming, but green tyranny. It really does address some of the issues that I’ve thought about but haven’t wish that I wish I’d written parts of what he’s got in that book. What’s the hardest part of your job, though? And I it’s a question I like to ask people in all kinds of different professions. And I think about it myself and what I do, and we are on somewhat similar tracks here as in the journalism, the lowly business of writing about the world. What’s the hardest part of that
Rupert Darwall 1:18:55
for you? I think, well, I wouldn’t say the hardest part. But the thing that I miss the most is interacting with people and that’s particularly the case with lockdowns and pandemics particularly in the UK, it’s been dreadful. It’s, I think isolation is, in a way, the hardest thing about you have to be isolated involves you have to be learned to write. But on the other hand, you shouldn’t be alone. I thrive on interaction with with people and I see, I see myself in a way in the ecosystem as it was like a sponge on the seabed, you know, I try and get the bits that are floating pie, and, and, and, and picking them up. And so I think it’s really I think, I think being able to meet the thing that I am not doing enough of at the moment is seeing people and meeting people and talking because that’s how that’s also how new ideas come and you see things in a slightly different way. I think that’s absolutely essential. Yeah,
Robert Bryce 1:20:00
I definitely agree. And I, well, the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some in person events. And I was like, thank God, I mean for a live audience and people just talk about, well, what about your business? Tell me about your business and you learn, there’s no substitute. He learned by just that proximity, and you learn from the body language and you learn from you know, the things they say they don’t say, you know, so on. So last question, Rupert. We’ve talked a lot about freedom and liberty and the and we’ve kind of taken for granted or been kind of the unspoken part of what we’ve discussed is the absolute essential reality of energy and power for betterment of people. Right, which Alex Epstein, I know, you’ve been on his podcast when he makes that case very well. What gives you hope?
Rupert Darwall 1:20:47
Knowledge is power. That was, that was Francis Bacon in the 17th century, but knowledge is power. And, you know, So ultimately, that’s the business we’re in, isn’t it?
Robert Bryce 1:21:04
It’s interesting that you mentioned bacon, I need to look him up. I’m not familiar with his work. But that’s great. Yeah, knowledge is power. There’s a great podcast. And I’m a great fan of Jordan Peterson and he had a Canadian journalist. Maybe you’re familiar with him on his podcast name Rex Murphy. And he talked about Francis Bacon that he thought Francis Bacon’s writing was some of the best he’s ever read in his entire career, which I thought was really quite quite interesting. But I agree knowledge is power. And and that’s one of the things that gives me hope as well is that, you know, as Jessica Mitford, the great mother, it was she was a Brit. You’re familiar with the Mitford sisters. She said, you may not be able to chat. That’s how puppy going off. Mitford famously said you may not be able to change, but at least you can embarrass the guilty. So that’s what he does. Very good. Well, Rupert, I let’s cut it off there. Unless you have something else to add. I’ll stop the recording here. And mice. Thank you very much. My guest has been Rupert darwell. He’s a senior fellow at the real clear foundation. Thanks to all of you. You can find his work. His new report on climate socialism and ESG is on the real clear Foundation website. Real Clear Politics real clear. Thank you, Rupert. And thanks to all of you in podcast land. Tune in next time for the next episode of the power hungry podcast. Until then,