Weaponizing political issues is always a negative step. Rather than trying to find non-partisan, common sense solutions, it shows that once again the political class are looking for political credit not pragmatic solutions.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the cacophony of outrage emanating from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and her proponents of ‘The Green Deal’, Greta Thunberg and her Extinction Rebellion (XR) acolytes, or the more genteel and dulcet tones of David Attenborough.
Theirs is a noble cause and these are all impressive, impassioned and inspiring evangelists who have picked up the mantle of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth crusade and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. They have literally bullied their way into the hearts and minds of Governments, the Fourth Estate and society in general.
Despite my personal belief that, as we enter a post-human epoch, the proliferation of Intelligent Machines is a greater threat to homo-sapiens than rising CO2, it is still sensible to agree that raising awareness is a necessary and commendable first step to sensible management of our eco-systems. However, the real test of the climate change zealots is their ability to bring about the seismic socio-economic behavior changes that governments and their populations will have to make if carbon dioxide emissions are to be reduced. Alas the hysterical forecasts of imminent extinction by the self-appointed guardians of our environment are not just exaggerated, they are self-defeating.
Exaggerated because previous extinction events, like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, resulted in 70% of the planet’s land-based species dying out. There have only been 5 extinction events in the 4.5 billion year history of the planet. Not even the worst scenarios are claiming this will happen. Like the boy who cried wolf, if we are to get homo-sapiens to take our role in reducing species loss seriously, we must avoid indulging in ‘fake news’.
Self-defeating not only because berating and bullying people has never been the most effective tool for changing human behavior, but mainly because their demands are disingenuous, unreasonable and irrational.
The most obvious fatal flaw is their unequivocal rejection of nuclear power as a sensible and effective energy source that is carbon free. Nuclear energy is by far the safest form of mass energy generation available. Less than 100 people have died from a direct result of a nuclear accident at a power station globally, and none have died in the US. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that less than 100,000 have died as a direct or indirect consequence of accidents at nuclear power stations, far less than die from other industrial plants. So, while 90 people die every day in car accidents in the US yet no-one has died from a nuclear accident, The Green Deal advocates won't even discuss nuclear energy as a potential zero emission solution.
This despite the evidence that nuclear power is the fastest way to lower emissions. Ironically Greta Thunberg’s native Sweden, the country often held up as a progressive icon, generates 40% of its energy through nuclear. Meanwhile another so called ‘wholesome’ region, Vermont, shut down its nuclear plant and has seen per capita emissions have since risen 5 percent during a period in which overall U.S. emissions declined by 17 percent. Likewise Germany is shuttering its nuclear power stations and now generates nearly 40% of its energy from ‘renewables’. Yet its emissions have not reduced because they need to supplement ‘green energy’ with more coal and gas powered generation. They also have the most expensive energy in costs in Europe.
The environmentalists also raise the cost of nuclear power as a reason not to invest in it as a viable option. If climate change is indeed the existential threat facing mankind, the argument that the obvious solution is "too expensive" is absurd, especially given the fact the world is wealthier that at any time in human history. As Bill Walker questioned in George Bernard Shaw’s play Major Barbara, “Wot prawce selvytion nah?” (what price salvation now).
The intellectually specious objection that nuclear power is not a viable and valid green energy source is like objecting to condoms as a sensible solution to the transmission of aids, or to vaccinations of children to prevent the spread of childhood disease.
Which raises another fundamental flaw in the eco-warriors’ crusade. Their refusal to promote the idea of population management or recognize that their whole movement is fuelled by the internet.
The best way for any adult to logarithmically reduce their carbon footprint is not to have children. If Greta was to commit to not having children, now that would be an act of real commitment as opposed to sailing across the Atlantic to get to the UN and flying her entourage back and forth by fossil fuel guzzling airplanes.
Reducing the population of homo sapiens and replacing them with intelligent machines who tread with a far lighter footprint on the planet’s environment, flora and fauna than humans makes sense. They are also more ‘woke’ than any homo sapien which plays right into the XR playbook. They see no color, need no sex or gender and have no age. Given that 99.5% of all species have become extinct, this challenge to human exceptionalism is not unreasonable.
Yet the same people who protest the use of fossil fuels, are the same people demanding that the development of AI and its associated technologies are curtailed because their privacy is threatened. What is more important, their privacy and their right to exist, or the survival of the planet?
If that sounds a little ‘extreme’, maybe the Extinction Rebellion evangelists could cut themselves off from the internet. US Researchers predict that the ICT (Information Communication & Technology) sector will consume 20 percent of all the world’s electricity by 2025 and be responsible for 5.5 percent of all carbon emissions. That could surge to14 percent by 2040 as a tsunami of high-resolution photos, streamed videos, emails, social media, surveillance camera footage, cell phones, and other IoT (Internet of Things) connected devices come on-line.
Or they could promote greater investment in technologies like GMO crops which are proven to feed more people more reliably and efficiently, with far less drain on natural resources. Yet this option is removed, just like nuclear power, because of political mantras.
The final nail in the coffin of ‘rhyme or reason’ in the climate change movement’s demands is that their proposed course of action will severely handicap the socio-economic prospects of the 77% of the planet’s human population. Nobody doubts that the major improvements in health, living standards and productivity across the so called ‘developed world’ have been fuelled by abundant and affordable energy. The architects of the New Green Deal and Extinction Rebellion are overwhelmingly from an elite privileged class who have inherited the abundant benefits of momentous industrial and technological revolutions, fueled entirely by fossil fuels.
Yet they now want to turn that fire hose of productivity and growth off, just as a vibrant middle class of huge potential starts to emerge from Asia and Africa. This reflects the extreme evangelism of Marxists who took over Cuba and Venezuela; or born-again Christians warning us all to ‘repent or burn in hell for eternity’.
To conclude and summarize. I respect the commitment and passion shown by climate change warriors like XR and Green New Deal campaigners. I don’t doubt that fossil fuels are a contributing factor to climate change, and believe the smart move is to find ways to reduce our reliance on them as an energy source.
However, I believe their political position is intellectually dishonest, their tactics are socially irresponsible and because of this they will fail to achieve their desired outcome. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament embraced similar political doctrine, activist hysteria and social terrorism. It failed, and arguably while the world’s nuclear arsenal may be smaller, the chance of nuclear war is no less today than it was at half a century ago.
The actors in XR and its affiliates ooze the same political dogma and embrace a similar extreme apocalyptic position. It is self-indulgent, sanctimonious, conceited and, to the detriment of us all, will end up being self-defeating.
The planet, and all the species who share it, deserve better.