Tag Archives: forecasts

Before we panic about Trump, see the Left’s past warnings

Summary: The Republic stands on the verge of destruction, again, as a new age of Leftist doomsterism begins. Before again credulously believing and panicking, let’s look at the Left’s past warnings. That should guide our response.

Trump as Hitler

Photoshopped, but is it truthi?

 

The Left screams warnings, louder and shriller every day, about the dire fate awaiting us. Trump plans to overthrow the US government. He is an authoritarian, a fascist, a Nazi, another Hitler. Before we panic — mailing large checks to Leftist advocacy groups, joining street mobs, and looking for Nazis to punch — let’s look at the Left’s record of prognostication.

We have 5 decades of alarms, for most of which the due date has passed. How often have their warnings proven correct? Let’s not react like the people on South Park, with wild panic to every rumor of doom.

 

The Population Bomb.

The 1968 preface of Ehrlich’s book clearly summarizes his analysis (also see Wikipedia).

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Never embarrassed by the failure of his predictions, in 2009 he wrote “The Population Bomb Revisited“. It said, quite delusionally, that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”. Even weirder, he took credit for the innovations of the green revolution: “it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.”

Ehrlich is considered an authority by the Left, despite his long series of failures. He gave one of his trademark doomster predictions in when speaking in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. It is quite unlike the serious analysis in Limits to Growth. The New Scientist of 16 September 1971 quotes Ehrlich.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Bernard Dixon’s “In Praise of Prophets” says Ehrlich also predicted worldwide plague, thermonuclear war, death of all sea-food, “rocketing” death rates, and ecological catastrophe. “The audience loved it and gasped for more”.

Famine 1975!

Bruce Trumbo’s review, “A Matter of Fertility“, summaries its terrifying forecast. It was a best-seller in 1967. See Wikipedia for details.

“The underdeveloped nations have exploding populations and static agricultures. The ‘Time of Famines’ will be seriously in evidence by 1975, when food crises will have been reached in several of these nations. The ‘stricken peoples will not be able to pay for all their needed food imports. Therefore the hunger in these regions can be alleviated only through the charity of other nations.’

“The only important food in famine relief will be wheat, and only the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina grow significant amounts of wheat. The United States, the only one of these four countries that has historically given wheat to hungry nations, is the ‘sole hope of the hungry nations’ in the future. ‘Yet the US, even if it fully cultivates all its land, even if it opens every spigot of charity, will not have enough wheat and other foodstuffs to keep alive all the starving. Therefore, the US must decide to which countries it will send food, to which countries it will not.'”

Los Angeles, A.D. 2017.

Hollywood, whose leaders’ lean to the Left, produces a steady stream of disaster films portraying the approved disaster of the moment, such as “L.A. 2017”. Directed by the 24-year old Steven Spielberg (his third pro job), it aired on 15 January 1971 as an episode of The Name of the Game. The audience saw the horrific world of 2017 (46 years in the future), after pollution had destroyed the Earth’s ecology and forced the remnants of humanity to live underground. Los Angeles has one cow; its milk is a delicacy for the rich. For more about the plot see this, or the Wikipedia entry.

It was written by Philip Wylie, a science fiction writer with a successful specialty in leftist doomster tracts about nuclear war and ecological doom. He novelized it as Los Angeles: A.D. 2017. See a review here.

Global Warming

Five decades of warnings.

The Left bombarded us with countless more warnings of doom during the next five decades. With an impressive record of total failure. My favorite was the years of warnings that peak oil was upon us, with causing the end of civilization. More entertaining were the lurid (but largely bogus) reports of the imminent bee-pocalypse.

Since James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to the US Senate about global warming, the Left has focused on announcements of the imminent climate catastrophe (going beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports): the end of snow, the parade of superstorms predicted to following Katrina, and other grim tidings that have not arrived. It’s an almost endless list of failed predictions.

Plus we have saturation bombing by their predictions of future doom, climate nightmares often based on misrepresentations of the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario. But after 30 years with only tiny changes in US public policy about climate, the Left has changed their tune. Now Trump has become the great danger. Dictator Trump. Fascist Trump. Nazi Trump. Hitler Trump.

Perhaps this time their warnings will prove to be prophetic. But, as with their previous warnings, the analytical basis for their forecasts about Trump are weak — often delusional. He is a clownish conservative, with a cabinet of bog standard far right Republicans. There is near-zero evidence that he, his officials, or senior elements of the US military and law enforcement agencies, want to or can overthrow the government.

No Fear

Conclusions

Since WWII both Left and Right have relied on fear to influence Americans. Generations have passed since FDR said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Perhaps we have grown up, matured beyond the ability of nightmares influence us. The next few years will reveal much about Trump, the Left, and America.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See more information about doomsters, about information and misinformation, about Donald Trump, and especially these posts…

  1. Journalists suffer from the crisis crisis, warping America’s vision.
  2. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  3. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  4. Good news about the fear epidemic: we’re learning!
  5. Today’s conservative doomster warning (ludicrous but fun) — Paul Craig Roberts sees the End, published in the Leftist “Counterpunch”.
  6. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.

Two books about the United States of Fear

 

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Good news for the New Year! Salon explains that the global climate emergency is over.

Summary: During the past two weeks I’ve posted much good news to help you prepare for the New Year. Concluding the series is the best news of all: a solid leftist declares an end to the planetary climate emergency! Solar and wind are replacing fossil fuels at an astonishing pace, sooner even than optimists expected when James Hansen began the climate crusade in 1988.

Good news about the climate

Donald Trump’s “carbon bubble” economy is bound to pop
— the only question is how bad it will be

“Trump’s economic policies are built on many flawed assumptions,
especially a fossil-fuel boom that won’t end well.”
By Paul Rosenberg at Salon, 2 January 2017.

Let’s go directly to the money paragraphs that give us the good news.

“The carbon bubble does exactly the same thing. It’s not just fossil fuel reserves that are overvalued by the bubble, but everything associated with the sector — pipelines, power plants, refineries, etc. …

“The carbon bubble risk is only made worse by the fact that renewable energy costs have dropped dramatically in recent years, and become increasingly competitive. Thus, even if those reserves were not unburnable because of their potential impact on climate change, they will become so for economic reasons in the next few decades. For example, the World Economic Forum’s recently released “Renewable Infrastructure Investment Handbook: A Guide for Institutional Investors” reported:

‘[T]he unsubsidized, levellized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility scale solar photovoltaic, which was highly uncompetitive only five years ago, has declined at a 20% compounded annual rate, making it not only viable but also more attractive than coal in a wide range of countries. By 2020, solar photovoltaic is projected to have a lower LCOE than coal or natural gas-fired generation throughout the world.’

“Add to this the fact that renewable energy — particularly solar and wind — is a new technology sector, in which large efficiency gains are to be expected. That’s quite unlike the fossil fuel industry, whose costs are increasing because the cheap, easy-to-get fuel has already been burned. By 2030, renewables could well leave fossil fuels in the dust. …

“Paul Rosenberg is a California-based writer/activist, senior editor for Random Lengths News, and a columnist for Al Jazeera English.”

This is the good news of the decade (even if bad news for fossil fuel investors)! For a decade climate activists have warned about the coming apocalypse from RCP8.5, the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s AR5 report (often misrepresented as “business as usual” despite its unlikely assumptions). Almost all the articles you have read about the horrific effects of climate change assume the RCP8.5 scenario.

To learn about this possible future see “RCP 8.5: A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” by Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011. It describes a hot dirty 21st century, in which coal use increases 5-fold to become the world’s major source of power (it’s a back to the 19thC future) — with the steepest increase coming after 2030. This graph shows energy use by fuel in 2100 for each of the four scenarios in AR5.

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One of the 20th century’s top minds sees a great 21st century for humanity

Summary: As part of our holiday festivities, here’s an article by one of the great intellects of the 20th century.  John Maynard Keynes made seminal contributions in statistics, risk management, and (above all) macroeconomics. Here he looks at our future, seeing things already happening yet about which we remain unaware — with even better news in our future.

Comet 's office of the future

“Economic possibilities for our grandchildren”
by John Maynard Keynes,
The Nation and Athenœum, 11 and 18 October 1930.

 

Today’s economic pessimism

We are suffering just now from a bad attack of economic pessimism. It is common to hear people say that the epoch of enormous economic progress which characterised the nineteenth cen­tury is over; that the rapid improvement in the standard of life is now going to slow down — at any rate in Great Britain; that a decline in prosperity is more likely than an improve­ment in the decade which lies ahead of us.

I believe that this is a wildly mistaken inter­pretation of what is happening to us. We are suffering, not from the rheumatics of old age, but from the growing-pains of over-rapid changes, from the painfulness of readjustment between one economic period and another.

The increase of technical efficiency has been taking place faster than we can deal with the problem of labour absorption; the improve­ment in the standard of life has been a little too quick; the banking and monetary system of the world has been preventing the rate of interest from falling as fast as equilibrium re­quires. And even so, the waste and confusion which ensue relate to not more than 7½% of the national income; we are muddling away one and sixpence in the £, and have only 18s. 6d., when we might, if we were more sensible, have £1; yet, nevertheless, the 18s. 6d. mounts up to as much as the £1 would have been 5 or 6 years ago.

…The prevailing world depression, the enormous anomaly of unemployment in a world full of wants, the disastrous mistakes we have made, blind us to what is going on under the surface-to the true interpretation of the trend of things. For I predict that both of the two opposed errors of pessimism which now make so much noise in the world will be proved wrong in our own time — the pessimism of the revolutionaries who think that things are so bad that nothing can save us but violent change, and the pessimism of the reactionaries who consider the balance of our economic and social life so precarious that we must risk no experiments.

My purpose in this essay, however, is not to examine the present or the near future, but to disembarrass myself of short views and take wings into the future. What can we reasonably expect the level of our economic life to be a hundred years hence? What are the economic possibilities for our grandchildren?

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The headlines show America being dismantled. It’s time to act, not just watch.

Summary:  We can see our future in today’s news headlines. Unless we become more active, our complacency today will create future astonishment — as we pretend surprise when the inevitable arrives. Here are ugly examples from our increasingly dark news. I recommend anger as a good first step.

Seeing the future

Ron Chapple/Getty Images.

I love the New York Times, so often reporting the news but burying the lede. Today’s fun headline is “BlackRock Reaches a Deal for a Move to Hudson Yards“. The real story tells how New York State gave $25 million in tax credits to the giant financial firm Blackrock. In exchange for Blackrock moves into nicer quarters and keeps 2,672 jobs in Manhattan. Terrorism works! Blackrock also promises to create 700 jobs (but there are no penalties for non-compliance).

Yesterday the NYT told us that “On Campus, Trump Fans Say They Need ‘Safe Spaces’“, which reports about two trends on college campuses. Conservatives say that “their views are not respected.” And threats of terrorism. As the President of the U of MI said, with insane even-handedness:

“…a student walking near campus was threatened with being lighted on fire because she wore a hijab… Some students have also been shouted at and accused of being racist because of their political views.”

We passively read news headlines showing the US political system breaking down, its norms no longer respected by its leaders. Such as “Donald Trump will remain Executive Producer on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’“. How long until President Trump nominates a horse as cabinet secretary?

We doze while the well-coiffed reporters on the TV announce that America is being dismantled and rebuilt as a plutocracy. Oklahoma’s governor sells off its parks (let the peons relax at country clubs!), and pretends not to notice that unregulated fracking is causing increasingly severe earthquakes. In a truly a truly Orwellian touch, Trump appoints a modern version of Mr. Potter (from It’s A Wonderful Life) as his Secretary of Labor: advocates letting inflation erode away the minimum wage and gutting the social safety net, and opposes effective regulation of overtime laws (see the ugly details here).

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What happens to the losers of the public debate about climate change?

Summary: Liberals believed that 2017 would mark a new start for US public policy to manage climate change. Now Conservatives agree, in a different sense. Both are wrong. The weather will determine who will win. The stakes for both sides are large (as are the possible effects on the world). The consequences for the losers will be severe. Just as we are unprepared for climate change (even repeat of past extreme weather), both sides are unprepared for defeat. This is an update and expansion of a post from March.

Cover of "Turning the Tide On Climate Change" by Robert Kandel

Cover of “Turning the Tide On Climate Change” by Robert Kandel (2009).

“The future is not what is coming at us, but what we are headed for.”
— Jean-Marie Guyau in Le Genèse de l’idée du temps, translated by Astragale.

The US public policy debate about climate has run for 28 years, from James Hansen’s famous Senate testimony to Trump’s threat to cut NASA’s climate research. This is one of the largest publicity campaigns in American history. Many people assume that US politics will determine the eventual winner, skeptics or alarmists. I disagree: the weather will determine who wins the public policy debate.

So far the weather has sided with the skeptics, with little of the extreme weather activists predicted. No surge of hurricanes after Katrina (despite the predictions). No sign of the methane monster; little evidence that we have passed the long-predicted tipping points. So, despite the efforts of government agencies, academia, and many ngo’s, the public’s policy priorities have been unaffected (see yesterday’s post). As a result, activists are going thru the 5 stages of grief for their campaign.

Global surface temperatures, flattish for 14 years (except for the 2015-16 El Nino).
October 2016 shows the El Nino spike, but exaggerates the recent flatness.
Warming is concentrated in months of May, June, & July.

NOAA Global temperature anomalies: October

From NOAA. Temperature in October of each year. Reference period is the 20th century.

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To understand the jobs report, see the state of the economy

Summary: The economy is slowing — slowly. September’s weak employment growth fits in this picture.  To see how, look at the current state of the economy — the essential context necessary to make sense of the jobs number. Equally important, this also shows why we are so poorly informed about the economy.  For the scoop about the jobs numbers, see my post at Seeking Alpha.

Fast Snail

Slow growth: the consistent picture during the economic recovery

The average growth rate of real GDP during the seven cycles from 1958 to 2001 was 3.5%/year. GDP grew 1.6%/year during the 2001-2009 cycle (2.8%/yr during the expansion phase). During this expansion GDP grew only 2.1% SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate). The full cycle rate will include the recession that ends it pulling the average down even more.

Each of the squiggles on this graph produced excited news stories and research reports. Bulls announced the peaks marked the start of a boom. Bears announced the troughs marked the beginning of the End Times.

Growth of real GDP during the recovery

Looking ahead — on August 3 the Atlanta Fed’s GDPnow model forecast Q3 real GDP of 3.2%. The bulls were euphoric, predicting that the Fed would soon begin to raise rates back to “normal” levels.  Surprise! As the five or so previous episodes of good news, secular stagnation has struck back. The current forecast is 2.2%. It’s called regression to the mean.

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PollyVote gives a reliable forecast about the Election. Prepare for Hillary.

Summary: The polls dominate the election news, but there are better ways to forecasts of its results. Here is one of the best: aggregating the various forecasting models. The results gives us time to prepare for the Clinton administration. See below for links to posts describing what we’ll see.

Prediction: a landslide for Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College

Pollyvote - Electoral Count - 16 Sept 2016

From the PollyVote website

“The PollyVote is based on the principle of combining forecasts. That is, PollyVote combines forecasts from different forecasting methods, the so-called component methods, each of which relies on different data. The PollyVote forecast is calculated by following a two-step approach:

  1. Averaging forecasts within each component method.
  2. Averaging the resulting forecasts across component methods.

“In other words, we use equal weighting of all forecasts within each component method, then equal weighting across these forecasts from different methods. This is the same approach that the PollyVote successfully used to forecast U.S. presidential elections since 2004, and the 2013 German federal election.” {Read the rest here.}

“The PollyVote was launched in 2004 by forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong and the political scientists Alfred Cuzán and Randy Jones. In 2007, Andreas Graefe joined the project. For more information about the team click here.”

Read about their track record and their publications about the PollyVote project. To learn more see their Frequently Asked Questions page. News stories about PollyVote data are automatically generated by software of the German-based company AX Semantics. Here’s how they do it…

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