While the revelations of “Climategate” are still making headlines and world leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss global warming, slowly but steadily more and more commentators are questioning the dubious qualities of environmentalism. Indeed, some are comparing it outright to totalitarian ideologies of the past.
Charles Krauthammer, writing for The Washington Post, quoted Czech president Vaclav Klaus as warning that environmentalism is well underway to become the new socialism. Or, as Krauthammer puts it, “the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.”
Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet.
Krauthammer calls on Congress to bring these overzealous bureaucrats to a halt. Saving the planet is one thing, but trampling on the US Constitution and sacrificing the economic order that has long brought the country prosperity might rather be too high a price to pay for it.
Global warming is real but “Climategate” unveiled some of the weaknesses of the environmentalist school that cannot be ignored. The evidence that says man is responsible for the process appears inconclusive at this stage but that is not the most pressing question politically. Rather we should ask ourselves whether the alternative provided by the eco-socialists, which borders on a rejection of industrial society and promotes self-sufficiency, is realistic and morally justified.
For it is industry that provides many of the answers to climate change in the form of renewable energies, fuel efficient engines, genetically enhanced crops, dams to protect regions from flooding and systems to warn against imminent weather hazards. Turning back the clock three hundreds years and abandoning the enormous technological progress that has been made in the meantime is not just impossible — it wouldn’t solve our problems.