Green Dreams, Inflationary Realities

Global policy and politics, particularly in the high-income world, have been obsessed with dreams of a green economy. Imposing ever-more rigid methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the way to “save the planet” is almost unchallenged in the media, academia, and corporate boardrooms of the developed world. The results on the ground have been less convincing, as the price of everything—from energy and food to construction costs—rises to unsustainable levels and international trade slows as global recession looms. Billions now face immiseration, malnutrition, or starvation. Economist Isabel Schnabel calls this process “greenflation”—companies’ efforts to reduce emissions have driven up prices, particularly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This has caused tremendous price pressure on rare earths, copper, and other materials critical to the production of batteries. The green lobby and its media supporters, meanwhile, like to claim that renewable energy is now economically competitive. But in places where strict green energy policies have been introduced, people end up with skyrocketing energy costs. In California, residents pay up to 80 percent above the US national average for electricity. Reliance on wind power has made even Texas’s grid vulnerable. Rather than learn from these experiences, other states, notably New York, have decided to adopt similar policies.

The biggest losers from greenflation are predominately the largely powerless working class and the denizens of developing countries. But even energy rich and historically prosperous countries like Australia face severe price hikes and shortages, as do Canada and the US. Economies have been severely impacted, particularly the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. In the developing world, where environmentalists have been working to block fossil fuel plants for years, over 3.5 billion lack reliable access to electricity. Greenflation has incited a new wave of political instability, as seen most recently in the meltdown of Sri Lanka.

Looking backwards

Before the Industrial Revolution, human civilization invariably used animals and slaves as its primary source of energy. Change started in the late-18th century in the United Kingdom with the discovery of mechanized spinning, steam power, and iron production. Writing in Das Kapital in 1863, Karl Marx reflected on the change brought about by the introduction of the steam engine in comparison to the inconsistent and uncontrollable nature of water and wind power:

Wind was too inconstant and uncontrollable, and besides, in England, the birthplace of Modern Industry, the use of waterpower preponderated even during the manufacturing period. In the 17th century attempts had already been made to turn two pairs of millstones with a single waterwheel. But the increased size of the gearing was too much for the waterpower, which had now become insufficient, and this was one of the circumstances that led to a more accurate investigation of the laws of friction.

The move to denser forms of energy such as fossil fuels precipitated the Great Decline in poverty, childhood mortality, starvation, and the eventual rise of democratic nation states. Now, the Western obsession with net zero energy could reverse three centuries of progress. “Energy equals quality of life and we intervene there only with the most convincing of cases,” cautions Prof. Michael Kelly at the University of Cambridge’s Electrical Engineering Division.

Trillions have been spent on green energy over the past 20 years, notes energy entrepreneur and investor Brian Gitt, but the percentage of global power generated by fossil fuels has barely declined from 85.54 to 82.28 percent; the bulk of reductions have come from replacing coal with natural gas. A critical turning point was the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident: Japan stepped away from nuclear power, and now suffers energy shortages as well as rising inflation and a declining economy. Germany also accelerated its Energiewende—an ambitious program aimed at expanding solar and wind capacity, while phasing out its remaining coal and nuclear power plants—with disastrous results.

Reliance on natural gas imports and an irrational fear of nuclear power have left most European countries in a difficult situation. As the physical constraints of intermittent power supply settled in, Germany found itself increasingly dependent on natural gas—by the end of 2021, over 55 percent of its imports came from Russia. The environmental benefits are difficult to assess: just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany announced it would be phasing out three of its six remaining nuclear power plants. Six months later, the Germans joined the Dutch and Austrians in burning more coal to survive the EU energy crisis. Household energy prices before Russian’s invasion of Ukraine had already risen by more than 50 percent across Europe, most notably in Italy, Spain, and the UK.

The high cost of energy is one of the main reasons Germany reported its first trade deficit since the fall of the Berlin Wall, while the country’s largest landlord announced a restriction on heating homes at night. Due to the zealotry from Brussels, the entire EU is faced with energy rationing and as sanctions against Russia may be backfiring, the EU has seen its currency trading weaker than the dollar for the first time in 20 years. Inflation has jumped to 8.3 percent in the Eurozone and 9.1 percent in the United Kingdom—the highest level in 40 years. Energy rationing may also be imminent in the UK. The percentage experiencing “food uncertainty” there has also doubled to twice the pre-COVID rate.

In an act of desperation, the EU regulators recently announced that both gas and nuclear power can now be classified by investors as part of the new green taxonomy—an effective admission that the current energy crisis stems largely from an unrealistic attempt to decarbonize the grid by 2050 with wind and solar energy alone. Nuclear may be making a comeback as France has decided to renew its once-vibrant industry.

A changing political equation

In 2016, the United States elected Donald Trump who had run on a slogan of burning “clean coal.” Trump clearly spoke to the devastated communities of the American heartland which are likely to be the biggest losers in a rapid transition to net zero. These communities have seen many of their manufacturing jobs outsourced to factories in the developing world, notably China, Brazil, and India where regulatory enforcement is less strict.

High energy prices and related inflation profoundly unsettles countries, and stokes class divisions. Real incomes are falling not only in Europe’s Mediterranean south but also in Germany, the UK, and France. Nearly two years after the Paris Climate Agreement, Emmanuel Macron’s government raised the tax on diesel in an attempt to curb carbon emissions. This led to the rise of the gilets jaunes, who adopted the slogan, “Les élites parlent de fin du monde, quand nous, on parle de fin du mois”—“The elites talk of the end of the world when we talk of the end of the month.”

The first gilets jaunes protest in Vesoul, 17 November 2018, Wikimedia Commons

Unrest is not confined to France. In June 2021, Swiss voters rejected a key referendum proposal to curb CO2 emissions on car and air travel, with most of the support coming from the countryside. Today, Dutch Farmers are protesting the government’s attempt to impose emission and fertilizer reductions threatening farms that have been in operation for generations. Recently, they have been joined by their Spanish, Polish, and Italian counterparts.

The political damage is already evident. Greenflation has contributed to the ousting of Boris Johnson in the UK, the resignation of Mario Draghi in Italy, the fall of Estonia’s government, and Emmanuel Macron losing his absolute majority in the French parliament. US President Joe Biden has suffered a poll decline as he doubled down on the green policies he adopted when he took office. His regulators are even threatening the Permian Basin, the world’s richest oil field and source of 40 percent of the nation’s oil and gas, while the administration begs for additional supplies from autocracies like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and promises more liquified natural gas to Europe.

Throughout the West, divergence between elite opinion and that of the vast majority is clear. Climate change activists, backed by the media, tech, and Wall Street elites, and numerous celebrities, may drive coverage and academic discourse, but Gallup notes that climate change ranks as the top priority issue for just two percent of Americans. Inflation leads economic fears with 18 percent, followed by the economy in general with 13 percent. Five percent are most concerned by gas prices. Now, nearly half of all small businesses say they fear inflation will force them into bankruptcy.

Longtime Democratic analyst Ruy Teixeira links the Biden administration’s obsession with climate to the President’s low approval ratings. Overall, barely a third of Americans, according to one recent survey, support the Biden energy polices; the fact that electricity shortages are expected across much of the country won’t be of much help in the November elections.

Crisis in the developing world

Greenflation has hit the developing world hardest where fuel riots are already common, as evidenced by the Arab Spring in 2011. It is now driving tens of millions more towards starvation during the worst food crisis in a half-century. Today, there have been fuel riots in Kazakhstan, Ecuador, South Africa, Senegal, and Ethiopia. Even before the imposition of bans on fossil-fuel financing, energy supply in most of Sub-Saharan Africa was completely inadequate to address basic needs. Even the renewable-sponsored PV Magazine now admits that despite the drop in the cost of solar panels, full electricity in Africa cannot be achieved with renewables alone.

The environmental impacts of the energy ban are rarely considered. Up to 40 percent of the African continent still relies on deforestation for its basic energy needs with nearly four million hectares of forest being cut down every year. Burning coal would reverse deforestation as it did in India and China over the last two decades, and also address the dangers posed by indoor cooking—a contribution to half of all childhood pneumonia deaths worldwide.

Unsurprisingly, leaders in countries like India tend to be more concerned about the availability of energy than about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. During the IPCC Glasgow conference, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said that India will not address climate change until 2070, a remark in line with the Indian Energy Minister’s comment in 2015 that the country must resist “Western carbon imperialism.” There is a clear rejection of favored sustainable development models peddled by the West, or what Austin Williams has described as “neo-colonialism gone green.”

Africa is particularly exposed. The UN projects that Africa’s population will be as large as Asia’s by the year 2100, yet institutions like the World Bank have pledged to stop funding fossil-fuel projects despite rising demographic-driven demand. In 2015, African leaders began speaking out against Western-enforced green policies. The president of the African Developmental Bank stated that “Africa cannot function because we have no power” and affirmed the continent’s need for “renewable and conventional” energy, including “natural gas and coal.” African presidents and energy ministers in Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa have also spoken out against harsh and uncompromising environmental policies.

Ironically, Europe—long the epicenter of ultra-green sentiment—has reversed course for their own purposes and rushed to buy gas from Africa and other impoverished countries, even as they balk at funding projects that might keep the energy closer to home. Then there is the tiny island of Sri Lanka, which saw the first attempt to implement modern monetary policy and the “sustainable” ideas of the Davos-inspired Great Reset. Predictable inflation, a ban on non-organic farming, and fuel rations were not about to deliver a Green Utopia, which is why the tiny island nation saw protestors charge the presidential palace and bathe in the oligarch’s swimming pool.

China, on the other hand, is too rich and powerful—not to mention self-interested—to allow greenflation to dampen its economy. Instead, despite emitting more GHG than the EU and the US combined, the Middle Kingdom had the chutzpah to criticize the US Supreme Court’s overturning of the Obama-era power regulations while they plan to build more coal power stations. Unconcerned about angry greens, the CCP also injected $440 billion aimed at expanding the nuclear energy fleet with plans to build 150 new reactors in the next 15 years.

An unpalatable religion for most

China’s financing of new energy and mining operations in developing countries comes with minimal concern for the environment, corruption, or long-term financial viability. Nevertheless, these countries may consider themselves far better off with Chinese rapacity than with fashionable de-growth notions fostered by Western governments, investment banks, and non-profits. Under Western domination, saving the planet means greenflation; for greens, high energy prices are generally not seen as a problem, but something that should be actively encouraged.

One reason for this indifference, observes Joel Garreau, lies in how environmentalism has become what novelist Michael Crichton once called “the religion of choice for urban atheists.” Although many green predictions dating back to the late 1960s have turned out to be exaggerated or even plain wrong, this does not seem to trouble climate activists. Although natural resources did not run out but became more abundant, this did not shake the faithful. A 2021 paper by Carnegie Mellon University researchers David Rode and Paul Fishbeck tracked apocalyptic predictions dating from the first Earth Day in 1970. Across half a century, 61 percent of the forecasts of planetary collapse have come and gone. Notes analyst Rupert Darwall, “We know, because we’re still here. In most fields, a record so far of 100% successive failure would induce a degree of cynicism, not least to say reasoned skepticism.”

Like Medieval Catholicism, the green faith foresees impending doom caused by human activity. In the Middle Ages, wrote Barbara Tuchman, “apocalypse was in the air.” The Final Judgement, brought about by human sin, was not only real but imminent. St. Norbert in the 12th century predicted that the event would occur within the lifetime of his contemporaries. Fueled by the same certainty, the greens have no more desire to debate policy than Medieval clerics.

The oft-repeated notion that “the science is settled” is profoundly unscientific, but endlessly reported. This seems a poor way to tackle a complex scientific issue in which open inquiry and debate are essential, observes Steve Koonin, President Obama’s undersecretary of energy for science. Koonin, remains skeptical about the ability to scale up “green energy” in the short run, and suggests accelerating “the development of other low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.” He argues that well-informed public discussions on policy “should not be sidelined.” In any complex system, serious concerns, such as sea-level increases due to rising temperatures, need to be studied in the context of complex weather cycles, the fluctuations of which may not be as extreme as the more sensational reports have suggested.

The bleak worldview of the climate activists seems to owe more to Medievalism than to the Enlightenment. As much as 15 percent of the population in preindustrial Europe is estimated to have been permanently celibate. Like the sex-hating Christian militants, today’s greens tend to be hostile to the idea of procreation, particularly in wealthy countries. Family-oriented people may also object to Ecotopia-like calls for restrictions on having children due to their “carbon legacy,” a proposal already endorsed by climate researchers at Sweden’s Lund University and Oregon State University in the US.

Clearly, the future being offered is not better for most—it is a future marked by downward mobility, less travel, and more crowded living conditions under perpetual greenflation. Eric Heymann, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank Research, may be an advocate of the “Great Reset” (or something like it), but he still warns that Europe’s Green Deal and its goal of climate neutrality by 2050 threaten a European mega-crisis which may well lead to a “noticeable loss of welfare and jobs.” We will even need to change how we eat: Some scientists suggest we will have to shift from hamburgers to such delightful concoctions as “maggot sausages.” Another has suggested that we recycle ourselves and discover the finer points of cannibalism.

The need for autocracy

Since these policies are unlikely to be popular, many greens propose what Heymann describes as “an eco-dictatorship.” There is broad support among influential voices like budget advisor Peter Orszag and journalist Thomas Friedman for the post-democratic notion of handing over power to credentialed environmentally oriented “experts” in Washington, Brussels, or the United Nations. Some greens have seized on the arbitrary “top down” restrictions associated with the pandemic as a “mass experiment” showing how to impose draconian edicts that would have trouble getting through elected legislative bodies.

This is not a fringe view. “Democracy is the planet’s biggest enemy,” announced a headline in Foreign Policy magazine in 2019. Jerry Brown, former governor of California, boldly suggests applying “the coercive power of the state” to achieve environmental goals and has even recommended the “brainwashing” of the uncomprehending masses.

As during the Middle Ages, such an autocratic approach has little room for freedom, increasingly focused as it is on the enforcement of climate orthodoxy. Not only energy companies but think tanks and dissenting scientists have been targeted for criminal prosecution. Dissidents, some suggest, should be jailed, and uncooperative companies should be stripped of their assets or, perhaps, simply dropped into the media memory hole. Even highly credentialed skeptics, including those who see climate change as an important issue—scientists like Roger Pielke and Judith Curry—have been marginalized for deviating from what Curry has described as an overly “monolithic” approach to the issue of climate change.

Now, in a particularly Orwellian step, Google has announced a “crackdown” on climate policy skeptics, including well-known scientists. This has been eagerly embraced by the EPA’s director, Gina McCarthy. As environmental activist Michael Shellenberger has pointed out, social media censorship avoids challenges to any misleading statements from Biden’s energy and environmental “brain trust,” which is overwhelmingly made up of climate zealots.

Potential divisions in the green movement

There are of course those who benefit from greenflation, including investment bankers, venture capitalists, and makers of approved products, like EVs, whose growth will further tax the already stressed grids in many countries. After all, subsidies to fight climate change have made Elon Musk the richest man in the world. The shift to net zero policies allows investment banks to benefit from the dissolution of fossil fuels even if the society in general suffers the consequences. As in the Middle Ages, the upper classes urge everyone else to cut back on consumption, while they purchase indulgences with carbon credits and other virtue-signaling devices.

Often the most frenzied cries for austerity come from the richest and most energy-hungry who seek to save the planet in style. They see no contradiction in convening squadrons of GHG-spewing private jets in Davos to discuss the environmental crisis. Few of the high-profile climate activists, including high-living celebrities, seem anxious to give up their multiple houses, yachts, or fleets of cars. Indeed, the private jet used by US climate czar John Kerry uses 30 times more carbon than the average car, even as officials consider restricting air travel for the masses.

This all reprises the clerical hypocrisies of the Middle Ages, when the Church promoted the virtues of poverty while bishops lived in luxury “loaded with gold and clad in purple,” as Petrarch put it. In the later part of the Middle Ages, this divergence between preaching and actually practicing austerity sparked rebellions and the Reformation. As the consequences of greenflation grow, it may become more difficult for environmentalists to excuse the excesses of their ultra-rich supporters.

After decades of steady agitation, extremism is already rising. Despair tends to stoke fanaticism. Among young Americans, the vast majority believe they face an imminent environmental catastrophe. The student movement around Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg recalls the youthful fanaticism of the Medieval sanctus puer or “holy children” who rampaged through Europe in the 13th century, or Mao’s Red Guards unleashed during the “cultural revolution” in communist China during the 1960s.

In the future, we can expect more ecotopian shock troops and semi-theological chanting. The middle class is also a target: militants in Germany and Britain now disrupt normal commutes and commerce for the sake of teaching the masses a lesson in climate rectitude. And as with all religious movements, there are the crusaders like the fanatical Sweden-based activist Andreas Malm who coined the idea of “blowing up a pipeline,” effectively justifying sabotage when democratic discourse fails.

The adaptive alternative

With their eyes on the apocalypse, environmentalists often seem less concerned with adapting to climate change than waxing hysterical about it. Yet the current greenflation crisis could bring a better appreciation of the consequences of draconian and often ill-thought-out policies. Like any critical issue, climate change should be tackled with pragmatic measures that also take the needs of human society into account. Climate change could well be a contributor to crop failures, hurricanes, floods, unusual weather patterns, and even war. But attempting to solve the problem by discouraging family formation or reducing living standards, as is often proposed, will only disrupt society and prove politically unfeasible.

There are some signs—particularly in the wake of inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—of a slow turn away from irrational fundamentalism to a more nuanced, Fabian approach. The current energy shortages are hailed as spurring a greater commitment to “green” energy, but it seems more evident, at least in the short run, that greenflation is forcing government to awaken from their “dogmatic slumbers,” as evidenced by the European re-evaluation of nuclear and natural gas, and Germany’s shocking revival of coal.

Even President Biden, facing a disastrous inflation-driven midterm, has shown willingness to allow drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska to the predictable horror of the greens. He has green-lit a new LNG plant in Louisiana primarily to export to Europe. Even California, ground zero for environmental zealotry, has decided to delay shutting down nuclear and gas plants in order to avoid disastrous blackouts while Australia’s new green government has decided to start subsidizing fossil fuels as a way to ensure that the renewable transition does not undermine the country’s energy sector.

Ultimately, the world has to find a way to adjust and adapt its environmental policies without causing massive inflation, dislocation, and worsening class warfare. If climate policy is hampered by economic concerns and continued GHG-spewing patterns in China, India, and other developing countries, perhaps more emphasis should be placed on adapting to changing natural conditions. In the Netherlands, for example, catastrophic flooding in the 16th century prompted an extensive and successful expansion of coastal berms to prevent future floods.

Humans may be the prime culprits of climate change, but they must also be part of the solution. The best way to address greenflation lies in pragmatic steps like greater investment in nuclear power, well-regulated oil and natural gas, and investment in new energy innovations to make renewables more reliable. As we seek to make an “energy transition,” we must find ways to do so without incurring devastating inflation, greater class division, the immiseration of the middle class, and the destitution of the poor, particularly in the developing world.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://quillette.com/2022/07/27/green-dreams-inflationary-realities/
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I approach this using Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt’s Concept of the Political.

Made “real simple” as per The Manchurian Candidate we can say:

There is no politics without an enemy.

But let’s do an Ike and make the problem bigger:

There is no religion without a Satan.

Ruling classes really like to run the politics and the religion of a place. It reminds them what noble warriors and devoted clerics they are.

And that is the modern problem. Whether it’s medieval clerics, Friedrich der Grosse and Silesia, Napoleon, Marx, Stalin, Mao, or our modern wokeys and climate change zealots, upper class people want to matter. And the way they matter is by leading the fight against the enemy or the Satan.

But I say that, in the modern era with the developed market economy, we don’t need no stinkin’ powerful ruling classes. The place runs itself, or would do if they would let it.

So I say that our modern challenge is to make politics and religion into stadium sports where we applaud as we watch our glorious leaders battle the most frightul imaginary video enemies and Satans: Minecraft for upper-class swells, designed and built by gubmint computer model experts.

It could work!

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OTOH, I know people who have gone green and celebrated their independence from the power monopoly.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t bother finishing a Quillette article but I’m not going to waste more time on this one. Doom! Doom! The greenies! The greenies!

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The authors draw several parallels between modern greens and medieval churchmen. But they miss one. In medieval times, the wealthy could sin to their hearts content, and then buy indulgences from the church to buy forgiveness. In today’s world, the wealthy can drive their Teslas to the airport to take their private jet to Davos or their Montana vacation home, and then buy “carbon credits” to “make up” for the private jet part. And Hey Presto! their sins are absolved.

Remember that the proximate cause pushing Luther to nail his theses to the door of the cathedral was not the wealth of the church (though that helped); it was his disgust at the blatant sale of indulgences.

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Content Advisory

Dear Quillette reader (especially a new one):

Please be advised that from time to time (approximately monthly) Quillette publishes an anti-green, pro-nuke article. These do not rise to a very high standard, and use some pretty shoddy techniques, such as:

  • painting with a very broad paintbrush,
  • lack of charity (“charity” in this case meaning, granting that those with different views might have motives that are not just stupid, evil, ill-considered, cabalistic, anti-human),
  • ascribing causality (always difficult) to just one or a few factors (i.e. energy policy is the cause of inflation),
  • casting fear of nukes as irrational,
  • lots of ad hominum,
  • minimizing,
  • cherry-picking: quoting dubious, fringe, motivated, and/or slanted sources
  • straight-up propagandizing.

I could go on but then it might seem like I’m just throwing mud against a wall to see what might stick.

As examples of the last three points;

Minimizing

Ummm - is this another way of saying, if you don’t like the heat wave that has just killed thousands in Europe, and wildfires threatening Yosemite, maybe “you should just get used to it”?

Cherry-picking

This article quotes some pretty slanted sources, for example:

quotes an article by “the Founder of a boutique oil and gas advisory firm”. The article itself is hardly convincing in that 2 of the 3 people profiled are 1) an ex-governor and 2) an ex-Secretary of State.

Propagandizing

The article uses the word "greenflation" 13 times by a quick count. This dunning or driving repetition is a typical propaganda technique. I believe that Lenin and Mao used the technique, though I'm no expert - terms like "capitalist roader", "Trotskyite", "deviationism", come to mind. Really, I'm no expert on this particular area of coining and/or using a term and belaboring it, but this article sure reads like propaganda to me.

I mean, think about it. Plenty of smart people - economists and others - have been predicting for decades that if you continue to “deficit spend”, most recently by stimulus programs, inflation will result. Too many dollars chasing too few goods - I learned it in high school, it just makes sense, prices go up. It’s happened many times in history.

Sure, rising energy prices hurt us in our pocketbooks, and hurt the poorest the most. But plenty of other things, only partly dependent on energy, have also gotten expensive. The horrific spike in lumber prices owed nothing to green policies.

Sorry, this comment has gotten too long. When an article such as this one uses the “Gish gallop” it’s kind of hard to respond.

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Dear Quillette reader (I am a new one). This site is encouraging in that it publishes multiple sides to an issue. This is probably one of the best I have seen on the topic to date. It amazes me how folks apparently want to seek out a forum where diverse viewpoints exists, and then immediately resort to disparaging remarks and censorship when the views don’t reenforce their own.

You are the poorer for it.

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But does that mean that the former is not a problem? Seems to me that rather than showing that energy price rises are not a problem, you’ve shown that the problem is even bigger.

I doubt it. Thing is that the remainder would be as predictable and formulaic as the first part. The article is ideological screed. Which, BTW, is not the same thing as saying that the anti-greens don’t have valid points, of course they do, and it goes without saying that various governments and NGOs are going to make mistakes, sometimes huge mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that greening the economy is not a good idea. Denmark now gets half it’s juice from wind, and Denmark is no closer to being a medieval theocracy than it was previously. I myself appreciate more balanced articles.

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There is a definite nihilistic and anti-human tendency among some Greens. For example, Tracy Stone-Manning, directed of the US Bureau of Land Management, referred to children as ‘environmental hazards.’ Link And this isn’t just a fringe view; every single Democrat in the US Senate voted for her confirmation.

During the Covid-19 era, there have been memes circulating with messages like “Humans are the real virus” and “The earth is healing in our absence.” There is a meme which shows a “world without bees” as a dry and dismal desert…ok, that may be fair, but some versions of the meme go on to portray a “world without humans” as a beautiful jungle, with noble and happy animals all apparently getting along with each other just fine.

I don’t think all Greens are nihilists of this type, or even most of them, but such remarks do represent a disturbing tendency and one which has probably been influential on energy policy.

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Here is a simple extract from the conclusions in the last two paragraphs to save you the trouble of reading through it all.

  1. As we seek to make an this energy transition, we must find ways to do so without incurring devastating inflation, greater class division, the immiseration of the middle class, and the destitution of the poor, particularly in the developing world.
  2. If climate policy is hampered by economic concerns in China, India, and other developing countries, perhaps more emphasis should be placed on adapting to the fact that we will be faced with changing natural conditions. (Build dikes and walls for example).
  3. Humans need to become part of the solution and not perceived as the problem. Folks in the developing world are now considering not having children as they are seen as adding the carbon footprint!
  4. We need to take pragmatic steps like greater investment in nuclear power, well regulated oil and natural gas, and greater emphasis on encouraging new innovation.

Pretty sensible perspective as far as I can tell, and not one being pushed by many I have come across so far.

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Very sensible. Now, if the author had left out the comparisons with the medieval Church and vague predictions of eco-dictatorship I’d have no doubt read the article right thru. I find sensationalism distasteful.

I myself am a eco-moderate, I think most of the change will happen naturally as all the ‘easy’ oil and gas are depleted, I’m staunchly pro-nuclear, I’m weary of bandwagons including green ones, but basically green is a good idea.

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This essay is ideological drivel from the first sentence, which reads, ‘Global policy and politics, particularly in the high-income world, have been obsessed with dreams of a green economy’. Climate scientists have been ‘obsessively’ trying to tell us that we are in the middle of a climate emergency since the middle of last century, and now it is right on top of us, or have the writers been living in an ideological cave for the last half century?

…which makes the following statement even more ludicrous, as in, ‘Imposing ever-more rigid methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the way to “save the planet” is almost unchallenged in the media, academia, and corporate boardrooms of the developed world.’ Newscorp, which is by far the largest news conglomerate on the planet has been and still is a staunch climate change denialist, obfuscator and change delayer. Worse, the boardrooms of the corporatocray have had to be pulled kicking and screaming into the climate problem because their friends on the boards of insurance companies and banks have told them their hydrocarbonist agenda will be uninsurable and unbankable within foreseeable business planning timelines.

You think climate change isn’t upon us. Check out your next insurance premium notice, if you can still get insurance. Want to start a new coal mine? Try asking for finance without heavy risk loadings…

And finally, the writers try to blame the economic problems now confronting Indulgence Capitalism on by far the cheapest supplier of energy on the market; renewables+storage+grid inter-regional interconnectedness. Gas, coal and nukes are ridiculously expensive and less secure by comparison.

This essay is worse than the usual nonsense peddled in these columns about vaccines. It is as bad as the Woke denialism of the mess they have created of our social infrastructure.

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Interesting article published 4 months or so prior to the special military operation in Ukraine. It would appear the price of energy was already on the way up in Europe:

I’d like to see all forms of clean energy on the table, Hopefully Putin’s energy diplomacy will pull back the curtain on the “good” renewables of wind and solar just enough for the irrationally fearful to see that without a scalable solution in the background, it’s going to mean higher costs and lower reliability; let alone the costs of the raw materials for storage will only increase as resources diminish. And there’s also the question of waste:

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Fear of nuclear power is irrational. Yes, there are occasional accidents. But the future is, and increasingly should be, nuclear.

Ninnies are anti-nuke.

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Being an 82 yr old physics/cultural anthropology major with a loooong interest in climate change/politics, I responded to this article with “right-wing garbage.”
I immediately received an email from Quillette itself objecting to the term “right-wing” and inviting me here to express my views, so I finished the article.
It’s right-wing garbage. The other commenters here have adequately delineated the precise propaganda techniques.

Most interesting, I haven’t heard of that. Claire soliciting your opinion, that’s an honor of sorts. Anyway I’m somewhat reinforced in my own opinion by yours.

I didn’t bother to read the article. But now that I see it characterized as “right-wing” garbage, I am inclined to read it, and likely enjoy it! It may be a good antidote to the otherwise common left-wing boilerplate nonsense I normally see about the “climate.”

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I found it worth the read. Don’t be put off by an attitude of self righteous ideology and the perpetuation of cancel culture by left wing activists. At least read the conclusion in the last two paragraphs.

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Whether the article is propaganda is strictly according to one’s preformed beliefs. My preformed beliefs are that climate change is real, nuclear is what’s needed for an eventual solution, and that the greenies are both serious and misinformed.

I’m 73 and expect to expire before climate change becomes the catastrophe predicted. If that comes to pass, then nature will act to self correct by causing the death of enough humans to do the job.

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