Saturday, 17 November 2012

Great news: Greenpeace will be invisible at the COP18 in Doha

The annual UN global warming hoax mega jamboree COP 18 is due to begin in Doha on November 26. One piece of good news can be reported already now: Greenpeace will be invisible during the conference

Greenpeace says it will not organise protests during the United Nations conference about climate change (COP-18) that will take place in Doha from November 26 to December 27. During COP-17, held in Durban (South Africa) in 2011, the organisation occupied the conference centre where UN climate talks were being held.
Hoda Baraka, Communications representative of the Arab World Project of Greenpeace Mediterranean, told The Peninsula that “due to practical challenges in a country where we have no local office, we have finally decided not to organise visual events in Doha in the way that we have had at many previous Conference of the Parties”.
The representative of Greenpeace added that “we did explore in detail the possibilities of doing so, but found that we could not carry out activities with sufficient impact at reasonable cost”. For that reason, the presence of Greenpeace will focus on lobbying with the delegations and interacting with the media. 
Nevertheless, the Greenpeace official stated that “of course we still take the opportunity of COP-18 very seriously, and we are sending a large delegation of climate policy experts and communications specialists”.
The lack of an office in Doha did not prevent Greenpeace from sending its flagship to the Doha WTO meeting in 2001:
Greenpeace will dock its flagship Rainbow Warrior outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Doha from November 9-13 to push environmental causes, the group said Monday. Representatives of local communities from the five continents whose livelihoods may be affected by WTO decisions will be among about 35 people on board, Greenpeace political director Remi Parmentier told AFP. He said permission was granted to berth the vessel in full view of the conference hotel during a meeting with Qatar's Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani in Doha on Sunday.
Could it be that the Qataris this time did not allow free parking for the Greenpeace new luxury yacht in front of the brand new Qatar National Convention Centre, the venue of the COP18? Or maybe the new yacht is too modest accomodation for the present generation of Greenpeace top brass? Instead Kumi Naidoo and his "large delegation" of "climate policy experts" and "communications specialists" seems to have opted to stay invisible, most probably in the cosy comfort of one of the many Doha five star hotels.
Could the Torch be the preferred choice for Kumi and his band of greenies?:
"At 300m high and with 360° panoramic views across the whole of Doha, The Torch is haven for the discerning traveller be they sports enthusiasts, business leaders or health and wellness seekers. The hotel is ideally situated midway between the major diplomatic area of West Bay, Qatar Foundation and 14 minutes away from Qatar National Convention Centre. Guests at the hotel have private walkway access to Villaggio mall."

Western Europe in the grip of the enviro-fundamentalist global warming lobby

Neither solar power, nor wind power will solve Europe's energy problems.

Another reminder of the blessings of the American led shale gas revolution:

As the world moves towards alternate energy sources, despite all the optimism of sun and wind energy, the real revolution in the energy world has been driven by conventional fossil fuels. Shale gas now dominates the global energy scenario.
US shale production has leaped to over 13 billion cubic feet/day - about 30% of the country’s natural-gas supply, heading toward 50% in the next few years. This increased production has been the primary driver for renewed profitability and growth in several North American industry sectors. Armed with massive and lasting advantage in energy costs over global rivals, companies are now considering major capacity additions in the United States for the first time in decades. America produced over 80% of its total energy needs in H1-2012, the highest since 1991. As per the US Energy Department, the country, poised to produce 11.4 mln bpd of oil, biofuels and liquid hydrocarbons next year, could parallel Saudi Arabia’s production. USA looks poised to approach energy independence before end of this decade. US ethane supplies are forecast to double by 2016, compared with the levels seen before the shale boom, to over 1.4 mln bpd. As a result, the US ethylene industry has seen a revival and restart of idled units, amid significant capacity expansions by either debottlenecking or new world-scale crackers. Royal Dutch Shell is planning an ethane plant in Beaver County. Dow Chemical is shutting operations in Belgium, Holland, Spain, the UK, and Japan, and investing into a propylene venture in Texas using cheap natural gas as feedstock. A study by the American Chemistry Council said the shale gas bonanza has reversed the fortunes of the chemical, plastics, aluminium, iron and steel, rubber, coated metals and glass industries. This is accompanied by the return of manufacturing clusters of machinery, electrical products, transport equipment, among others, from China to the US triggered by a 16% annual rise in Chinese wages over the last decade

The shale gas revolution is - and will continue to be - the main driver for economic growth and prosperity in the United States. Crisis-ridden Western Europe could also hugely benefit from unconventional gas, but the that seems unlikely - at least in the near future - as the global warming enviro-fundamentalists are dictating policy in countries like Germany and France:

According to the estimates of the US Energy Information Administration, Europe has around 639 trillion cubic ft of recoverable shale gas resources, around 75% of USA’s reserves. However, as USA marches ahead with shale gas development, Europe is headed in the opposite direction. Europe is at the core of attention of the geopolitical debates surrounding shale gas. The shale revolution might weaken Russia's authority of the continent, as Europe would become less dependent on gas imports from Russia. In Europe, natural gas prices are dictated by Russia’s Gazprom, as Germany imports 36% of its gas from Russia, Poland imports 48%, Hungary- 60%, Slovakia imports 98% and the Baltics import 100%. Another challenge will be loosening Russia's grip over supplies. Moscow controls the region's pipelines. Many buyers in Eastern Europe are also locked into supply contracts of as long as 25 years with Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom—making it uneconomical in some cases to seek a new supplier. Currently, US natural gas pricesare about 35% of European levels, making it almost impossible to match US’ production costs. U.S. wholesale natural gas prices currently cost around $3.5 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), compared with $9 per mmBtu in Europe. The almost total failure of Europe’s leaders to face up to the reality of shale gas development, or to prepare for their energy crunch ahead is surprising. Germany is slated to shut down its nuclear plants by 2022, is opting instead for a politically-correct grid. The goal is to raise the share of renewables from 20% to 35% by 2020 at a cost of €200 bln, and march towards renewable dominance by mid-decade at an investment of another €600 bln. German industries are concerned about losing a competitive edge against U.S. rivals where the shale gas boom has led to a sharp drop in industrial energy costs. German energy costs, by contrast, are rising as its government has decided to exit nuclear power generation, invest billions of euros into expanding the renewable generation sector and largely relying on imports to meet its natural gas demand. France has shale but has imposed a drilling moratorium and will also shut down a nuclear plant for good to appease the Greens. In much of Western Europe the situation remains unclear: France, estimated to have the second largest reserves within Europe (around 180 trillion cubic ft) imposed an outright ban on fracking under the previous government, and seems unlikely to change its stance under Francois Hollande. Italy has banned nuclear power, while Britain is faced with issue of closing eight coal plants by 2015 to keep up with EU carbon allowances; as well as an ageing nuclear industry that is not being replenished by new commissions.

Read the entire article here

Friday, 16 November 2012

A serious blow to the Putin thugocracy: U.S. House of Representatives passes Magnitsky Act

Putin's mafia state is on the decline.

Excellent news from Washington D.C.: 
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Magnitsky Act, which which  imposed sanctions on Russians who have violated human rights:

It requires the United States to place financial and visa restrictions on a list of officials associated with the torture and death, three years ago Friday, of Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblower who uncovered a $230 million tax refund fraud. Russian officials have denounced the act as interference in domestic affairs.
“We will signal that corrupt thugs who attack whistleblowers and human rights activists will be held to account in America, if not Russia,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
“We must hold Magnitsky’s killers accountable,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who also denounced Russia’s prosecution this summer of the female punk band Pussy Riot after it took over a cathedral altar last February and sang a song against Vladimir Putin. Two members of the band have since been sentenced to two years in a penal colony, following a trial that Cohen called “little more than a farce.”
He called on the band’s persecutors to be added to the list of sanctioned Russian officials.
“These are exactly the sorts of victims contemplated in this legislation,” he said.
Russian human rights activists support the bill. Lev Ponomaryov, leader of the For Human Rights group, told Interfax it is “a step in the right direction.” Putin, who was elected president in March, met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, and she also brought up human rights issues in their talks.
Read the entire article here
The bill which includes the Magnitsky Act is also expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate  should be welcomed by people all over the world who care about human rights and democratic values. It is also a major blow to Vladimir Putin and the thugocratic mafia state he has created. There will be a time - hopefully in the not too distant future - when the dictator himself will not be welcome to any civilized country, even without any kind of act. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

President of UN climate talks: Shale gas will ensure global energy security for the next 300 years

Al-Attiyah: Shale gas will ensure global energy security for the  next 300 years.

Finally, the UN Climate Change talks have a President - Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, deputy Prime Minister of Qatar - who seems to know what he is talking about:
The President of the forthcoming UN Climate Change Summit in Qatar says shale gas is “good news” and will ensure global energy security for the next 300 years.
“It’s good news because it gives the world trust and confidence in gas,” he told a TV reporter at the 2012 Oil and Money Conference.
“A few years ago there was uncertainty about enough supply to the world – today the gas will give the world 300 years of security. I believe this is good news and it will give the consumer more trust in gas.”
The greenies are of course furious:
Reacting to these comments, WWF-UK’s International Climate Change Policy Advisor Kat Watts said it was vital all Parties heading to Doha realised the world needed to move away from oil and gas as a source of energy.
“All governments need to realize that the future cannot be not fossil fuelled. There are massive greenhouse gas emissions in both production and consumption of coal, oil, gas, and the only way to minimize the climate crisis is to keep them in the ground,” she said.
If Al-Attiyah stays the course and ignores the alarmists, something good might for the first time come out of a UN mega climate change jamboree ....

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The European Union - a sinking ship beyond salvation

The rudderless EU will share the fate of this formerly so proud ship.

The European Union is more and more looking like a rudderless ship slowly sinking in an ocean of bad news:

With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday.

Most European governments have in recent years had to cut spending, pensions and benefits and raise taxes aggressively to bring public debt under control. That includes not only the most financially troubled governments, like Greece, but also the traditionally more stable ones, like France and Britain.

The result has been a dramatic drop in living standards in many nations that leaders have accepted as collateral for policies they claim are unavoidable. With no end in sight to the economic misery, workers were trying to take a stand on Wednesday.

Even Germany, the EU's überpaymaster, is showing serious signs of a beginning recession:

Fears that the eurozone debt crisis could propel Germany into recession grew on Tuesday after investor sentiment in the bloc's biggest economy dropped unexpectedly.
Jennifer McKeown, Senior European Economist at Capital Economics, said the index was “consistent with economic stagnation in Germany” but she expected Europe's powerhouse to contract.
“We think that the economy will slide back into recession next year as the peripheral debt crisis intensifies and business and consumer confidence weaken further,” she wrote in a research note.
Germany has generally fared better than the rest of the 17-nation eurozone during the three-year debt crisis, but analysts have warned that it cannot resist the turmoil indefinitely.
The latest version of the Ifo business confidence survey showed German firms were pessimistic about the outlook for Europe's economic powerhouse, as the index slumped to a two-and-a-half year low.

 fresh survey shows that the "captains" of the European ship are looking more and more like the infamous skipper of the Costa Concordia

On a scale of one to 10 - with one being “bad” and 10 “good” - 53.6% of respondents gave the EU executive a mark of three. Furthermore, 23.1% ranked it at the bottom - one - midway through its four-year mandate.
Less than 1% gave the Commission a full 10.
President José Manuel Barroso and Vice President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton received the worst marks by far - 2.5 and two respectively.
The board of shipowners - the European Council - will no doubt continue to hold endless and useless crisis meetings. At some point they will finally have to face reality: Their shoddily designed vessel cannot be salvaged.
What is sad, is that the bill for the senseless rescue operations will be sent to the European taxpayers.  

Desertec - another major solar energy project loosing its shine

Desertec - a green pipe dream soon to be deserted.

Another major solar energy project is going down the drain:

As recently as three years ago, many thought that it was only a matter of time before solar thermal plants in North Africa supplied a significant portion of Europe's energy needs. But Desertec has hit a road block. Industrial backers are jumping ship, political will is tepid and a key pilot project has suddenly stalled.

Supporters hailed the Desertec Industrial Initiative as the most ambitious solar energy project ever when it was founded in 2009. Major industrial backers pledged active involvement, politicians saw a win-win proposition and environmentalists fawned over Europe's green energy future. For a projected budget of €400 billion ($560 billion), the venture was to pipe clean solar power from the Sahara Desert through a Mediterranean super-grid to energy-hungry European countries.

Today, a scant three years later, there is still little to show for the project but the ambition.
The list of recent setbacks in daunting. The project has failed to break ground on a single power plant. Spain recently balked at signing a declaration of intent to connect high-voltage lines between Morocco and the rest of Europe. In recent weeks, two of the biggest industrial supporters at the founding of the initiative, Siemens and Bosch, backed out. And perhaps most tellingly, though last week's third annual Desertec conference was held in Berlin's Foreign Ministry, not a single German cabinet minister bothered to attend.

The reasons for the impending failure are clear:

Renewable energy projects remain more expensive than traditional fossil fuel plants and tend to require government subsidies.
"The rarest resource in Europe is money," said Michael Kauch, a German parliamentarian who is the environmental spokesman of the business friendly Free Democratic Party. "It's even rarer than energy or rare earth minerals."

The same story everywhere: Solar and wind energy projects, which totally rely on government subsidies, are failing abysmally. There is more than enough of clean and inexpensive shale oil and gas  for the foreseeable future. Why waste taxpayers' money on expensive and completely unrealistic "renewable" energy projects. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Surprise, surprise - The "troika" gives a "positive" report on Greece

Luxembourg's Juncker - a leading supporter of the "joka"

The "troika" had delivered a "positive" report on Greece. Now it's once again time to start throwing taxpayers' money at the unfortunate Greeks. But the Greek tragedy continues, and everybody knows that the politicians in charge of the European Union are only buying time. The actors playing the part of the "troika" are more and more looking like clowns. Maybe it is time to rename them: How about calling the group the "joka"? 

The inspectors of the troika, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, have finally presented their report on Greece. The head of the Euro Group of euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, said it was "positive."

Arriving in Brussels for Euro Group talks later in the day, Juncker said the ministers received the report on Sunday night and that it "is positive in its fundamental tone because the Greeks really delivered. Now it is for us to deliver." He said the ministers would check the report in detail and that he couldn't give a final verdict on it because he was still reading it.

Joke of the year: All-electric Tesla S named "Car of the Year"

In case you didn’t know, with electric cars, the battery is everything. Yet despite all the money spent and 100-plus years of research under scientists’ collective belt, there has been no significant technological advancement with regard to batteries’ cost, range, and efficiency, in terms for American usefulness for today’s electric vehicles. 
(image wikipedia)

Motor Trend magazine has chosen a car, which uses a more than a hundred years old failed technology as its "Car of the Year":

Motor Trend magazine has named the Tesla Model S its Car of the Year. The magazine's staff selected the all-electric plug-in luxury car out of a field of 11 finalists that included models such as the Ford Fusion, Porsche 911 and Hyundai Azera.
It is the first time the magazine's Car of the Year award has ever gone to an all-electric car.
Did the editors of Motor Trend forget to mention that the award was given in the "Joke of the year" competition?

The European Union buries its international aviation carbon tax

From day one it was clear that the European Union would would lose the fight for its unlawful, costly and useless international aviation carbon tax. Today the EU überwarmist, climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard was forced to beat a hasty retreat. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the arrogant former Danish journalist, who until recently has had nothing good to say about the opponents to the stupid EU tax: 

The European Union executive caved in to critics of its contested carbon tax on air travel Monday, offering to "stop the clock" and freeze the measure for a year on flights to and from non-European nations.
The EU's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said at a hastily arranged news conference that she had just recommended in a phone conversation with the 27 EU nations that the tax be suspended in the interests of negotiating a global CO2 deal.
"Finally we have a chance to get an international regulation on emissions from aviation," Hedegaard said, referring to progress on the matter at a Friday meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal.
"But let me be very clear: if this exercise does not deliver -- and I hope it does -- then needless to say we are back to where we are today with the EU ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme). Automatically!" she stressed.
The suspension of the CO2 tax would affect flights "to and from non-European countries", meaning European airlines will continue to pay.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) was quick to celebrate the announcement, with IATA chief Tony Tyler saying in a statement that it "represents a significant step in the right direction and creates an opportunity for the international community".
"The commission's pragmatic decision clearly recognises the progress that has been made towards a global solution for managing aviation's carbon emissions," Tyler said.
"The flexibility shown by the European Commission demonstrates that the ICAO process is working," he added.
Hedegaard said she had recommended "stopping the clock for one year", until after the next ICAO general assembly in autumn 2013, due to signs at Friday's ICAO talks of a move towards a global deal, or "market-based mechanism".
The EU imposed the scheme on January 1, but 26 of ICAO's 36 members, including India, Russia, China and the United States, have opposed the move, saying it violates international law.
The EU tax forces airlines operating in the bloc, whatever their flag, to buy 15 percent of their carbon emissions, or 32 million tonnes, to help battle global warming.
The talk about a one year "freeze" is of course nothing but a face saving operation for Mme Hedegaard and her warmist friends. The reality is that the EU carbon tax is dead and buried, and will never return. The ICAO will probably agree on something, but that something is not going to be anywhere close to the stupid EU tax.  

Monday, 12 November 2012

IEA: U.S. to overtake Russia as biggest natural gas producer already in 2015

The International Energy Agency, which is supposed work for ensuring "reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond", has for years now been a leading force in the international climate change propaganda machine:

However, the IEA now seems - at least temporarily - to have returned to its original task.The newly published World Energy Outlook shows that some people within the IEA understand the importance of the US-led shale gas and oil revolution. At a press conference in London even the IEA's warmist Chief Economist Fatih Birol had to admit that the United States will overtake Russia as the biggest gas producer by a significant margin already by 2015. And according to Birol the U.S. will become the world's largest oil producer only two years later. 
This is what the IEA says in its press WEO press release:
The global energy map is changing in dramatic fashion, the International Energy Agency said as it launched the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO). The Agency's flagship publication, released today in London, said these changes will recast expectations about the role of different countries, regions and fuels in the global energy system over the coming decades.
“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”
The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035. Links between regional gas markets will strengthen as liquefied natural gas trade becomes more flexible and contract terms evolve. While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push ever higher, growing by more than one-third to 2035. China, India and the Middle East account for 60% of the growth; demand barely rises in the OECD, but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables.
Fossil fuels will remain dominant in the global energy mix, supported by subsidies that, in 2011, jumped by almost 30% to $523 billion, due mainly to increases in the Middle East and North Africa. Global oil demand grows by 7 mb/d to 2020 and exceeds 99 mb/d in 2035, by which time oil prices reach $125/barrel in real terms (over $215/barrel in nominal terms). A surge in unconventional and deepwater oil boosts non-OPEC supply over the current decade, but the world relies increasingly on OPEC after 2020. Iraq accounts for 45% of the growth in global oil production to 2035 and becomes the second-largest global oil exporter, overtaking Russia.
While the regional picture for natural gas varies, the global outlook over the coming decades looks to be bright, as demand increases by 50% to 5 trillion cubic metres in 2035. Nearly half of the increase in production to 2035 is from unconventional gas, with most of this coming from the United States, Australia and China. Whether demand for coal carries on rising strongly or changes course radically will depend on the strength of policy decisions around lower-emissions energy sources and changes in the price of coal relative to natural gas. In the New Policies Scenario, global coal demand increases by 21% and is heavily focused in China and India.
So far, so good, but where the warmist IEA errs, is in its projections for renewable energy:
Renewables become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. However, this rapid increase hinges critically on continued subsidies. In 2011, these subsidies (including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion, but over the period to 2035 need to amount to $4.8 trillion; over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets.
With more than enough of cheap and clean natural gas and oil on offer, governments will not be  willing to waste huge sums of taxpayers' money on inefficient and expensive wind and solar power. 

Putin's thugocracy is beginning to unravel

Vladimir Putin's rotten regime is finally beginning to unravel. The latest corruption scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. We must still wait a while before the entire Putin thugocracy collapses:

President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff has acknowledged he was aware of alleged embezzlement of state funds earmarked for Russia's satellite navigation system, a statement seen by some as a sign of an intensifying battle among the Kremlin clans.
Sergei Ivanov said he discussed the probe with police officials but didn't speak publicly about it for several years, to prevent the culprits from covering up their deeds. Ivanov, a KGB veteran like Putin, said years in the spy service taught him to be sly with the enemy.
"I have spent a large part of my life in foreign intelligence," he told Channel One television. "The most horrible thing there is betrayal, and here we had the same thing. I had to be patient and not let my feelings show, because I realized that if I did that it would tip them off and push them to cover up their trail."
Ivanov's comments, broadcast late Sunday, come after a Russian police official said Friday that the Interior Ministry was investigating the allegations of embezzlement of 6.5 billion rubles (over $200 million) earmarked for Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation system. As a former Cabinet member, Ivanov previously oversaw the development of the system that competes with the GPS navigation system run by the United States.
The allegations follow a military corruption scandal that led to last week's ouster of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, and some observers alleged a link between them.
Some commentators saw Ivanov's comments as a clumsy attempt to avoid blame for allowing corruption to flourish at the ambitious project that has seen a series of humiliating failures in recent years, including the loss of three satellites in a failed launch in December 2010.
"It's a specifically Russian way of investigating corruption: after learning that someone intends to steal state funds through shell companies you just hide and wait for two or three years," Anton Nosik, a prominent blogger, wrote in a sardonic post Monday.
Valery Morozov, an anti-corruption activist, said in his blog that the claims of embezzlement appeared to reflect the infighting among the Kremlin clans. Ivanov was widely seen as a driving force behind Serdyukov's ouster, and the other camp seemed to strike back with the claim of corruption in GLONASS, Morozov said.

Read the entire article here

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bill Gates' latest brainwashing project: A world in which "human beings are reduced to a minor, rather undistinguished role"

"Big history" - A world in which human beings are reduced to  minor, rather  undistinguished role.

History is made by occurrences such as the big bang and climate change in which human beings are reduced to a minor, rather undistinguished role. That is the essence of the "big history" syllabus peddled by Bill Gates and an increasingly loud environmental movement. 

University of Kent sociology professor Frank Furedi is rightly worried about the danger of children being brainwashed by the "big history" envirofundamentalists:  

The syllabus is very much of the moment. It resonates with the present misanthropic zeitgeist that is obsessed with the natural environment and regards the human-created one with deep suspicion. Its ambition is to convert schools throughout the world to its approach to the past. 

No doubt the authors of this syllabus are motivated by the impulse of reforming the way children think about their past. However, whatever the aim of this syllabus, its effect will be to revolutionise the way schoolchildren think about the past through distancing them from their cultural legacy. 

The author of this syllabus, David Christian, contends that what it offers is a story that transcends the nation-state and covers humanity as whole. He says in his course “you encounter humans not as Americans or Germans or Russians or Nigerians but as members of a single, genetically homogeneous, species, Homo sapiens”. However, his reduction of humanity to a biological species speaks to an imagination that has become estranged from civilisation, culture and community. 

That is why human beings have a limited and undistinguished status in this syllabus. As Christian argues, humans are “only part of the picture” in his vision of history. 

It is necessary to note that Christian’s project is not about universal history. A truly universal history would have as its focus the significant human accomplishments that bind together people of different cultures. Rather than focusing on the biological and chemical make-up of a species, a universal history would look at the way different civilisations evolved, interacted and developed, and dealt with the shared challenges confronting mankind. 

The authors of this project claim to offer a shared global discipline. But what is shared are not historical but natural inheritances. This is a synthesis of what was once called natural history with environmentalist ideology. 

Not surprisingly, its emphasis is on environmental factors, particularly the influence of geology and climate. From this perspective history is made by occurrences such as the big bang and climate change, and human beings are reduced to a minor, rather undistinguished role in the making of their world. 

The lengthy timescale of big history - 13.7 billion years from the big bang - speaks to an imagination that relegates human accomplishment to a minor footnote. That is why in this syllabus, the human species does not make an appearance until well into the course. The assignment of a marginal role to humans in the making of their world is at the centre of environmentalist ideology. The timescale around which this story is constructed is an integral part of this ideology because the further you go back in time, - the more insignificant is the role of human beings relative to that of nature. 
Indoctrinating children with such a passive version of human destiny is unlikely to encourage the opening up of young minds. 

It makes perfect sense in teaching geography to move back in time when volcanoes and asteroids changed and ruled the world. Physics pupils need to know about theories to do with the big bang, and those studying biology require a knowledge of the evolution of the human species. What they also need is what big history devalues, which is an understanding of human history. 

There is no doubt that history can and should be taught in a variety of ways. But whatever the strategy pursued, young people need to know about the experience of their community and nation. Australian children must be able understand the influences from the past that shape their life today. They also have to be exposed to the cultural legacy of their ancestors and the best that humanity offers. It is that which will give them the foundation for going forward in the future. 

Read the entire article here

(picture by

Charles C.W. Cook on the re-election of Obama

The British-born associate editor of the National Review, Charles C.W. Cook is despaired after the U.S. presidential election, and it is not difficult to agree with what he writes:

Our president, a Narcissus masquerading as a Demosthenes, makes big speeches packed full of little ideas, and he is applauded wildly for it. His, says Marco Rubio, “are tired and old big-government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from. Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.” I will vouch for the verity of these words. I have watched how these sorry ideas play out in the real world, and it is not pretty: They make people’s lives worse, and yet simultaneously convince them that any reform will kill them — a fatal combination. Americans should avoid this path sedulously, for that way lies decline.
Rubio is correct in another assessment. How small Barack Obama’s politics are! How deficient and outmoded are his ideas; how limited his understanding of America’s value; how dull his magniloquence. The president has an ample library of ideas from which to choose, and yet he raids the Old World. Compare Barack Obama’s entire oeuvre to a single line from Thomas Jefferson or Emma Lazarus or Frederick Douglass — or even Ronald Reagan. Does it stand up? Only in a society that has lost touch with the ancient and is reflexively in love with the new could such a man be considered to be an inspiration.
And yet, he has now won twice. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to elect such a man once may be regarded as a misfortune, but to elect him twice looks like carelessness. (Or, rather, criminal negligence.) This year, certainly, was not the perfect storm of 2008. Then, novelty and redemption played a role; this time, an insipid bore ran on an openly statist platform and won the day in a country that is supposed to be “center right.” Maybe it no longer is. In 1980, when faced with a set of policies that demonstrably hadn’t worked and a president who wanted to take America leftward, America chose a different path; in 2012, it doubled down. That says a lot about a people. The central problem, then, is not that Obama will be president for the next few years, but that the American people — knowing him — chose to reelect him. 

Read the entire article here.