Friday, April 30, 2021

What’s Wrong with Conspiracy Theories?, by Jim Fetzer - The Unz Review

The public has been fed an endless stream of attacks upon conspiracy theories, which, we are told, are supposed to be very bad for human beings and other living things. But precisely why is almost never explained. And when you consider that our political parties and the mainstream media indulge themselves in conspiracy theories, such as the claim that Russia interfered with the 2016 election (otherwise Donald Trump could never have been elected) or, alternatively, that Dominion voting machines were used to steal the election of 2020 (and otherwise could not have been defeated) are, in the first instance, promoted by the media (in spite of virtually no evidence at all) and, in the second, denied thereby (in spite of massive supporting proof). Both are conspiracy theories, where one appears to be true and the other appears to be false.

Since at least some conspiracy theories thus appear to be true, we need to be able to tell the difference. Even university professors have shown a decided aversion to conspiracy theories, buying into the stereotypical conception that the key characteristic of conspiracy theories is that they are unfalsifiable. A “tip sheet” for one college, for example, makes the declaration that “The main problem with any particular conspiracy theory is not that it’s wrong, but that it’s inarguable; not that it’s false, but that it is unfalsifiable. Because it is unfalsifiable, a conspiracy theory is not provable or disprovable.” If that were true, it would certainly count against them, making them akin to theoretical affirmations about the existence of God (as a classic case) or the existence of a universal “Force” a la Star Wars (more contemporary). But is it actually true?

A study published in Frontiers of Psychology“’What about Building 7?’ A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories” (8 July 2013), for example, suggests that those often characterized as “conspiracy theorists” are more skeptical of what they are told by the government (“official accounts”) than they are enamored of specific alternatives and are more open-minded in the interpretation of evidence. They are less inclined to defer to officials as authorities and more inclined to look at the evidence, which even hints that the study of alternative theories of events like 9/11 might be an effective method to teach critical thinking.

Since conspiracies only require two or more persons acting in concert to bring about an illegal end (and turns out to be the most widely prosecuted criminal offense in America), why should conspiracy theories be all-but-banned from public discourse? We know the criteria to employ in the evaluation of scientific theories, why should they not be evaluated by the same standards (or criteria of adequacy), which classically include:

  • (CA-1) the clarity and precision of the language in which they are expressed;
  • (CA-2) their scope of application for the purpose of explanation and prediction;
  • (CA-3) their respective degrees of empirical support on the available evidence; or,
  • (CA-4) the economy, elegance or simplicity with which they satisfy (CA-1) – (CA-3)?

Since conspiracy theories are theories, why should they not be evaluated by the same criteria, where the testability of a theory depends (right off the bat) on the specificity of its language?

When Ilhan Omar (D-MN) made the observation, “Some people did something” (in relation to 9/11), for example, her remark qualifies as true but trivial. It cannot satisfy (CA-1) or (CA-2), much less (CA-3) or (CA-4). When The 9/11 Commission, by contrast, concludes that 19 Islamic terrorists commandeered four commercial carriers and attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon under the control of a guy in a cave in Afghanistan, however, the content and thereby the testability of what has been asserted increases substantially. The government, however, has not been disposed to revise its “official narrative”, even though a half-dozen or more of the 19 “suicide hijackers” turned up alive and well the following day and made contact with media in the UK, as David Ray Griffin observes by making his first argument in his magisterial study, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2004). Even though we know the theory advanced by the commission therefore cannot be true, the government has remained unmoved.

And when consideration is given to Building 7 (WTC-7), for example–a 47-story building in the World Trade Center complex), which was not hit by any plane but came down in what has been characterized as a classic “controlled demolition”—it raises the specter of a “conspiracy theory”, even though its collapse has the characteristics of having been a controlled demolition—abrupt, complete, symmetrical collapse into its own footprint, leaving a debris pile equal to about 12% of the height of the original—where even the owner of the WTC, Larry Silverstein, confirmed to PBS that WTC-7 had been “pulled”. Nothing about this account violates any of (CA-1) – (CA-4).

There are many videos and expert studies of the collapse of WTC-7 available on-line, which means that the recorded sequence of events can be reviewed again and again. It leaves no doubt that, contrary to the NIST Final Report on WTC-7 (2008), which attributes its collapse to the modest fires in the building and the loss of a major support column, this was a controlled demolition that fits the pattern of controlled demolitions around the world. Indeed, on 9/11, as it took place, Dan Rather was (perfectly accurately) reporting it as reminiscent of pictures we’ve seen “where a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down”

But if WTC-7, which was not hit by any airplane, was brought down by a controlled demolition, then what about WTC-1 and WTC-2, the North and South Twin Towers? According to The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), which is the official government account of 9/11, the World Trade Center was destroyed as part of an elaborate plot by 19 Islamic terrorists who commandeered 4 commercial carriers, which were used to attack the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. But, since a conspiracy only requires two or more participants collaborating in the attempt to commit a crime, the “official account” of 9/11 itself obviously qualifies as a “conspiracy theory”. Once we look at the evidence, we find that we are confronted with alternative theories that differ in the causal mechanisms they posit, but where both alternatives qualify as “conspiracy theories”.

Comparing Conspiracy Theories

Once we acknowledge the obvious—that the “official account” of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory we are no long able to avoid dealing with conspiracy theories, unless we avoid 9/11 altogether. That, indeed, appears to be the attitude of most philosophers of my acquaintance, who have no interest in evaluating alternatives or in assessing the adequacy of The 9/11 Commission Report (2004) itself. This stunning lack of intellectual curiosity might be rooted in the desire not to “fall down the rabbit hole”, since there are disconcerting revelations upon revelations, once you take the bait and begin to scrutinize what we have been told. One fascinating tidbit, for example, is that Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, had as his area of academic specialization, before entering government, the creation and maintenance of “public myths”.

Another reason the study of 9/11 turns out to be philosophically interesting is that so much of the official account entails violations of laws of physics, of engineering and of aerodynamics. At Shankesville, PA, for example, where Flight 93 is alleged to have crashed, there is a hole about 10’x20’ but no signs of any crash having taken place by a Boeing 757 weighing over 100 tons with a 125’ wingspan and tail standing 44’ above the ground. As both the reporters first on the scene observed, the eerie aspect of the crash site was that, unlike other crash sites, there were no signs that any plane had crashed there, which invites an inference to the best explanationWhich hypothesis is better supportedthat a Boeing 757 really crashed there or that it did not?

The situation at the Pentagon is even more intriguing, since not only is there no massive pile of aluminum debris—no bodies, no luggage, no wings, no tail, not even the engines (which are practically indestructible) were recovered at the time—but the official trajectory (of a Boeing 757 traveling over 400 mph skimming the ground and taking out a series of lampposts) turns out to be aerodynamically impossible. Because of the phenomenon known as “downdraft” (or “ground effect”), such a plane at that speed could not have come closer than 60’ or even 80’ of the ground, which is higher than the Pentagon at 71’ is tall. Since violations of laws of nature are physically impossible, something must be wrong. How could the official account possibly be true?

Various accounts of scientific reasoning posit a series of stages of inquiry, beginning with one of Puzzlement (where something doesn’t fit into our background knowledge and invites attention), Speculation (during which alternative possible explanations are articulated for consideration), Adaptation (where the strength of the relationship between those hypotheses and the available evidence is evaluated) and Explanation (where, when the evidence has “settled down”, the best supported of the alternatives may be accepted, in the tentative and fallible fashion of science). It ought to be apparent already that the “official account” cannot be reconciled with available evidence, where serious thinkers, I surmise, can excuse themselves only by ignoring 9/11 entirely.

And here we have the key to why some prominent “conspiracy theorists” are relatively easy targets of public attack. Alex Jones, the paradigm of the category, often does excellent work in drawing attention to puzzling cases where what we are learning does not fit into our background knowledge and understanding. And he’s equally good at speculating about possible alternative explanations. But he does not have the aptitude or the ability to carry their investigation further, where sorting out the difference between authentic and fabricated evidence can play a crucial role. At the Pentagon, for example, a key piece of fuselage from a Boeing 757 (which the media has frequently cited) did not come from Fight 77 but from an earlier crash near Cali, Columbia, in 1995, where the salvage was done by an Israeli firm and then planted on the lawn that day as “proof” a plane had crashed there.

Are JFK conspiracy theories unfalsifiable?

Lest it be thought that 9/11 may be the exception, let’s consider another familiar case, that of the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, as a second. If it turns out that conspiracy theories here are unfalsifiable, then perhaps the admonition against taking them seriously has some foundation, in fact. But that does not appear to be true here, either. In criminal investigations, homicide detectives apply multiple criteria of motive, means and opportunity to identify and narrow the list of suspects. Among the most familiar theories about the assassination of JFK, for example, are alternative hypotheses positing (h1) that it was done by Fidel Castro, (h2) that it was done by the Mafia, (h3) that it was done by the KGB; and (h4), alas, that it was done by the CIA. Are these theories testable? Are they unfalsifiable?

On the “official account”, Lee Oswald fired three “lucky shots” and killed JFK while wounding John Connally, the Governor of Texas. Suppose the alleged assassin had been an expert shot; the Mannlicher-Carcano he is said to have used was an appropriate choice for the purpose; the backyard photos showing Oswald holding a rifle wearing a belt and holster with the revolver with which he is said to have shot Officer J.D. Tippit (and holding two communist newspapers) was authentic—and the “lone assassin” theory just might have merit. In a single package, the version published on the cover of Life magazine subtly conveys that this guy had the motive (as a communist), the means (rifle and handgun) and (presumably) opportunity (by working in the Texas School Book Depository–and encountering Officer Tippit, while he made his escape).

But what if it turns out that Oswald was a mediocre shot; that the weapon he is alleged to have used was a World War II carbine known as “the humanitarian rifle” for never harming anyone on purpose; that there were four versions of the backyard photographs, where his face and expression remain exactly the same across different poses taken at different times; that the chin on the subject in the photos is a block chin, not Oswald’s tapered chin; that there is an insert line between the chin and the lower lip; that the fingers of his right hand are cut off and that the shell casings found at the site of the Tippit shooting by the first officer on the scene had been ejected from (one or more) automatics, not from a revolver, such as he possessed?

Although most philosophers might not know, Oswald was a mediocre shot; the weapon was a ridiculous choice for an assassination; the shell casings found at the scene by the first officer to arrive had been ejected by (one or more) automatics; and the backyard photos were staged, where experts even appear to have identified the stand-in for Oswald, who was Roscoe White, a Dallas Police Officer with ties to the CIA. One student, Jack White, used the newspapers in the photo, the dimensions of which are known, as an internal measure of the height of the man in the photos, who, it turns out, is either too short at 5’6” to be the 5’10” Oswald or, which is more likely, the photos were introduced a bit too large when the photos were manufactured.

The JFK Assassination Literature

From a philosophical point of view, the facts matter less than that the hypothesis that Oswald was framed as the “lone gunman” appears to be empirically testable. Indeed, recent research has confirmed the opinion of Harold Weisberg and of Jim Garrison that a figure in the doorway of the Texas School Book Depository was not his co-worker, Billy Lovelady, as the government proclaims, but Lee Oswald himself, just as he had explained to Will Fritz, the homicide detective who interrogated him, when asked where he had been during the shooting, namely: “out with Bill Shelley in front”, where Bill Shelley was one of his supervisors in the book depository. And this has been confirmed not only by studies of the height, weight, build and clothing of the two alternatives but by recent superposition of their images in the famous “Altgens6” photograph.

You do not have to be familiar with the extensive conspiracy literature by authors including (to cite only some of the most famous) Mark Lane, Rush to Judgment (1966); Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas (1967), David S. Lifton, Best Evidence (1980), Jim Marrs, Crossfire (1989), Robert J. Groden, The Killing of a President (1994) and The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald (1995), Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason (1997), and Douglas Horne, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board (5 volumes, 2009), on the conspiracy side of the ledger, and others, such as Vince Bugliosi, Reclaiming History (2007), which runs around 1500 pages in defending The Warren Commission Report (1964), which was said to have been supported by 26 volumes of evidence—until you take a closer look, as Sylvia Meager, Accessories after the Fact (1992), did, demonstrating that the contents of those 26 volumes contradicts the 888-page summary.

It turns out that conspiracy (to commit burglary, to commit fraud, to commit murder and so on) is the most widely prosecuted crime in the United States. Conspiracies only require two or more individuals to act in concert to commit a crime. Once you know that JFK was hit at least four times—once in the back from behind; once in the throat from in front; and at least twice in the head (from behind and from the right/front), after the driver, William Greer, had brought the limousine to a halt to make sure he would be killed—the case for conspiracy is beyond doubt. See, for example, the studies of the medical evidence by David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., who is board qualified in radiation oncology and discovered the autopsy X-rays were altered to patch a fist-sized blow out at the back of the head, which had been widely reported by the physicians at Parkland Hospital, where the body was taken, and the leading JFK medical expert in the world.

See David W. Mantik, John F. Kennedy’s Head Wounds: A Final Synthesis—and a New Analysis of the Harper Fragment (2015). Most philosophers are not even aware that, on the day of the assassination, two wounds were repeatedly reported over the national networks: a shot to the throat, which Malcolm Perry, M.D., explained to the press during a conference following the announcement of death, was a wound of entrance (where the bullet was coming at him), and a shot to the right temple, which blow out the back of his head, a report attributed to Admiral George G. Burkley, the president’s personal physician, and reported by Malcolm Kilduff, Acting Press Secretary, who said it was a simple matter of a bullet through the head while pointing to his right temple, while announcing the death. Indeed, Frank McGee, who was a keen analyst, that day on NBC, when reports that the shooter has been above and behind began to surface, astutely remarked, “This is incongruous. How can the man have been shot from in front from behind?”

Ramifications for Public Policy

That, of course, was the conundrum that the Warren Commission had to resolve: how to make the case for a lone assassin, when there was evidence in the public domain that JFK had been shot from several directions in a brief span of time. It was a gargantuan challenge, where they were not entirely successful, since wide swaths of the public to this day doubt that Lee Oswald acted alone. Many, myself among them, believe that distrust in the American government dates from the deception perpetrated on the American public about the assassination of JFK, where so many were listening to their radios and glued to their television and learned with their own ears and eyes that he had been shot in the throat from in front and that he had been shot in the right temple from the right/front. Frank McGee had it right: How can the man have been shot from in front from behind? Yet the government insists on “the lone gunman” to this day.

During the past two decades, the scientific studies of the assassination have been undertaken by experts in different fields, including a world authority on the human brain (who was also an expert on wound ballistics), several Ph.D.’s (one of whom is also an M.D.) and a physician who was present in Trauma Room #1 when JFK’s moribund body was brought to Parkland Hospital and who, two days later, was responsible for the care and treatment of his alleged assassin. Assassination Science (1998), Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000) and The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003), for example, have been described by Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History (2007), as the only “exclusively scientific” volumes ever published on the assassination, where Douglas Horne, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board (2005), extends that tradition with five more.

The discovery of more than 15 indications of Secret Service complicity in setting him up for the hit; that the body was altered and the autopsy X-rays were changed; and that the home movies of the assassination were massively edited to conceal the true causes of death provide evidence that falsifies (h1) that was done by Fidel Castro, (h2) that it was done by the Mafia and (h3) that it was done by the KGB. None of them could have exerted control over the Secret Service, the autopsy at Bethesda, or the home movies, including the Zapruder film, which was in the custody of the Secret Service. Which means not only are JFK conspiracy theories empirically testable but multiple among them have already been falsified. (h4), of course, remains under consideration in all of its manifestations, including the indispensable collusion of LBJ and the FBI.

What matters here, however, is not the specifics of “who dunnit” but that the situation with regard to conspiracy theories is not at all as popular belief would have it. Not only are they not unfalsifiable, but the application of scientific reasoning has produced significant results, which have led to the identification of the probable perps. Philosophy–though teaching logic, critical thinking and scientific reasoning–has much to contribute to the public good. There is nothing wrong with “conspiracy theories” that warrants their neglect by philosophers. On the contrary because most students have a keen interest in knowing the truth about JFK, 9/11 and a host of other politically significant but controversial events, there is a wealth of material to work with if faculty, philosophers, especially, would come down from their ivory tower and engage with real world events.

A striking illustration of the difference it makes for public affairs may be found in the attacks upon Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whom the Democrats (as the majority party) removed from her committee assignments because she was raising too many issues that they did not want to address (about Sandy Hook, Parkland, Las Vegas, CA wildfires and more). Having done research on all of these, I composed an assessment, where it turns out that, on every one of the issues about which she was being attacked, Marjorie Taylor Greene was either clearly in the right or supported by the weight of the evidence. Most of her assertions, of course, qualified (in the mind of her critics) as conspiracy theories; but if they paused to consider the evidence with regard to each of them, they would have been impressed provided only they had an open mind.

And there’s the rub. As James Files, who may or may not have been behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll informed me, “When the government commits a lie, it’s stuck with it!”, which of course resonates with the failure of the government to change its position (about the 19 Islamic hijackers on 9/11 or Lee Oswald as the lone, demented gunman on 22 November 1963). Which means, in turn, that the government is not operating on the basis of principles of science or of rationality, where the discovery of new evidence or alternative hypotheses may require that we reject hypotheses we previously accepted, accept hypotheses we previously rejected and leave others in suspense. The government operates as an authoritarian source of (politically infallible) knowledge, where to admit mistakes would weaken its grip on the body politic that it governs.

And, reflecting upon the treatment of Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), it struck me like a silver bullet: Conspiracy theorists are investigating crimes: No wonder they want to silence us! The government was involved in the assassination of JFK; the government was involved in 9/11; the government was involved in Sandy Hook, Parkland and Las Vegas, too! Think of the genius of it all: the perps themselves are in the position of dictating to the public who is credible and who is not when it comes to investigating crimes in which the government itself is complicit! It turns out, therefore, the answer to the question we ask, What’s wrong with conspiracy theories? , could not be more obvious once they are properly understood. We should all be conspiracy theorists! The nation can only benefit from sorting out true conspiracy theories from false.

James H. Fetzer, Ph.D., a former Marine Corps officer and McKnight Professor Emeritus on the Duluth Campus of the University of Minnesota, has published 24+ academic books and 12+ in conspiracy research.

Vox Popoli: Begging for a coup

France may be about to learn that using the military's standards against it is an effective way to convince the military to abandon its standards:

Eighteen French servicemen, who have been identified as signatories of a letter warning President Emmanuel Macron about a looming “civil war,” will come before a military court, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff said.

Each of the identified soldiers and officers would appear before a higher military council, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Francois Lecointre, told Le Parisien. All of them would be subjected to “disciplinary sanctions,” with the harsher ones reserved for the most senior ranks, he added.

“I believe that the higher the responsibilities, the stronger the obligation of neutrality… is,” the general said. The chief of staff also said that those among the semi-retired generals who signed the controversial letter could potentially be forced to leave military service and go into full retirement.

“These generals will each appear before a higher military tribunal. Following this procedure, it will be the President of the Republic who will sign a decree on [their] retirement,” Lecointre said.

French defense minister threatens ‘sanctions’ against ex-generals behind open letter blasting Islamism and ‘suburban hordes’

Such a strong response was sparked by an open letter declaring the country is headed toward “civil war,” signed by several former high-ranking military personnel as well as “a hundred senior officers and more than a thousand soldiers.” The appeal published in the conservative ‘Valeurs Actuelles’ news magazine urged Macron to save the nation from Islamism and the “suburban hordes” of immigrants.

As always, the Promethean tactics are based upon subversion and lies. The military has a duty to defend the nation against invasion, which the enemies of the nation have subverted by redefining the nation as the state and redefining invasion as immigration.

But immigration is war. And prosecuting the messenger is never wise.

It appears the end of the Fifth Republic is approaching. It has already survived longer than three of its predecessors, and is unlikely to last as long as the Third Republic did.

The Ugly Truth About Renewable Power By Irina Slav

When Texas literally froze this February, some blamed the blackouts that left millions of Texans in the dark on the wind turbines. Others blamed them on the gas-fired power plants.

The truth isn't so politically simple. In truth, both wind turbines and gas plants froze because of the abnormal weather.

And when Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway said it had plans for additional generation capacity in Texas, it wasn't talking about wind turbines. It was talking about more gas-fired power plants—ten more gigawatts of them.

While the Texas Freeze hogged headlines in the United States, across the Atlantic, the only European country producing any electricity from solar farms was teeny tiny Slovenia. And that's not because Europe doesn't have any solar capacity—on the contrary, it has a substantial amount. But Europe had a brutal winter with lots of snow and clouds. Despite the often-referenced fact that solar panels operate better in cooler weather, sub-zero temperatures are far more drastic than cool. This is not even to mention the cloud cover that, based on the Electricity Map data above, did not help.

If we go back a few more months, there were the California rolling blackouts of August that state officials and others insisted had nothing to do with the state's substantial reliance on solar and wind power. The state's own utilities commission disagrees.

Related: Canada’s Oil And Gas Industry Must Innovate To Survive

This is what the California Public Utilities Commission and the state's grid operator, CAISO, said in a joint letter to Governor Newsom following the blackouts:

"On August 15, the CAISO experienced similar [to August 14] supply conditions, as well as significant swings in wind resource output when evening demand was increasing. Wind resources first quickly increased output during the 4:00 pm hour (approximately 1,000 MW), then decreased rapidly the next hour. These factors, combined with another unexpected loss of generating resources, led to a sudden need to shed load to maintain system reliability."

Further in the letter, CPUC and CAISO also had this to say:

"Another factor that appears to have contributed to resource shortages is California's heavy reliance on import resources to meet increasing energy needs in the late afternoon and evening hours during summer. Some of these import resources bid into the CAISO energy markets but are not secured by long-term contracts. This poses a risk if import resources become unavailable when there are West-wide shortages due to an extreme heat event, such as the one we are currently experiencing."

These lengthy quotes basically say one thing—and it is a well-known thing: wind and solar power generation are intermittent, and this intermittency is a problem. This problem continues to be neglected in the mainstream renewable energy narrative with only occasional talk about storage capacity. The reason? Battery storage is quite expensive and will increase the cost of solar and wind generation. Hence the blackout risk as renewable power capacity continues to rise.

"People wonder how we made it through the heat wave of 2006," said CAISO's chief executive Stephen Berberich last August. "The answer is that there was a lot more generating capacity in 2006 than in 2020.... We had San Onofre [nuclear plant] of 2,200 MW, and a number of other plants, totalling thousands of MW not there today."

In a recent article for Forbes, environmentalist Michael Shellenberger cited both the Texas Freeze and the California August 2020 outages as examples of why there should be less solar and wind capacity added to the grid, not more: because the more renewable capacity there is, the higher the risk of blackouts.

Solar and wind are weather-dependent sources of electricity and, as the events in Texas and California show, they are unreliable, Shellenberger, who is the founder and president of Environmental Progress, a research nonprofit, wrote. He also pointed to Germany, where an audit of the country's energy transition plans showed that some of the projections were overly optimistic, while others were outright implausible.

People in Germany, like people in California and New York, by the way, are paying more for electricity than people in places that are less dependent on renewable energy. While some may be perfectly fine with paying more for cleaner electricity, not everyone can afford it over the long term. And affordable energy is crucial for civilization, Shellenberger notes.Related: Oil on Guard over Yemen as Saudi, Iran Meet in Secret

Affordability is one essential requirement for energy if it is to contribute to the improvement of living standards, even if we take economic growth out of the equation since it appears to be very passé these days amid the fight against climate change. Yet affordable energy is one of the driving forces of equality among different communities across the world. And so is reliable energy.

Affordability and reliability, then, are the two things good energy sources need to be. Solar and wind—unlike hydropower, which is also a renewable source—can only be one of these two things, and that's if there is no storage included. They can be affordable, as we are often reminded. Yet, sadly, they cannot be reliable.

This means that the more billions are poured into boosting renewable capacity, the greater the risk of further blackouts. Perhaps at some point, if wind and solar become the main sources of electricity, authorities will need to institute planned outages.

The author of this article grew up in the 1980s in Bulgaria—a time when the country's socialist government exported so much electricity for hard currency payments that blackouts were a part of life. It wasn't a particularly convenient life, but millions of people lived that way in both Bulgaria and Romania. It’s worth mentioning, though, that back in the 1980s, people were not constantly online. Our energy consumption has soared since then.

To be fair, the limited availability of electricity would have an incredibly positive effect on greenhouse gas emissions. That is, if the limitation comes from the limited amount of energy generated rather than from excessive exports. In the end, from an environmental perspective, an overwhelming reliance on wind and solar, and the planned blackouts that are quite likely to result from this reliance, would go a long way towards the Paris Agreement targets. Of course, it would cost people certain inconvenience and loss of economic—and scientific, and medical—activity. But if priority number one is fighting climate change, then the end must surely justify the means.

By Irina Slav for