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 United States 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.
I think you have a rather simplistic take on the enviromentalist movement. While many do in fact follow these extreemist gtendencies you describe, many are quite reasonable people who understand that the way to fight global warming is to go forward and invent new methods.
Well put Nick. I have always felt this is more of an ideological movement than real science. In other words, the political Left taking advantage of climate change, which is a natural, ongoing process, to further their own party ideas. This important issue should be taken from the reactionaries and placed into more responsible hands, though I am not sure who that would be these days!
Quite true. Many people are sincerely worried about climate change and try to do their bit by saving energy and stuff like that. That’s all good. My fear though is that some of the more, in my view, extremists, including people who promote self-sufficiency and argue in favor of dismantling industries, are gaining more and more ground. I find that rather worrying, for exactly the reason I have tried to outline in the last paragraph.
There is real science behind the environmentalist movement. Though, as this ‘Climategate’ incident showed, not all of the real science is put out there, which is a shame of course and terribly unbecoming of scientists in the first place.
But I do fear you’re at least partly right: that some are misusing global warming in order to push their own agendas.
Thanks for a thought provoking article. I found you through the All things Eco carnival this week.
My personal feeling is that we should be tapping in to the best of both resources. I certainly feel that rebuilding communities and self sufficiency will help but I don’t feel we need to REJECT industrial society.
As you say, industry provides many of the answers; there are some technological advances that we should take full advantage of (personally I do not endorse GM foods, but that’s another topic) but we do also need to change our consumer habits, because they are quite clearly NOT contributing towards a healthy or happy future.
There is a fine line between ‘prosperity’ and ‘greed’ and we need to achieve a balance between what we like and want and what is right for our future…
What’s wrong with greed? 😉
Problem is, different people will have different ideas on what is right for our future. The danger is not so much that solutions offered by environmentalists (self-sufficiency, “biological agriculture”, see my recent entry on Europe’s egg shortage for instance) are wrong, but that they’re enforced upon us, diminishing our freedoms.
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