People are getting remorseful about everything tied their personal ecological footprint. They are told the meat on their plate is choking mother nature, their car represents capitalism’s suffocation of the planet and that they will have to give up the idea of flying for a holiday or to visit their family abroad. A year ago, we were consumers; now we’re disgraceful polluters.
It’s painful and every day we hear from gurus and virtue signalling campaigners how ashamed we should be for having consumed. The imminent extinction of all humanity is urgently guilting us into some public sacrifice to save the planet: cathartic climate cleansing … atonement with a selfie-stick.
That is until the Risk-Monger suggested on social media to the Extinction Rebellion catastrophe peddlers that we should also then give up our pets (they eat a lot of meat). He even launched the #PetFree2020 hashtag (it failed to take off). When he scribbled that message on a picture of Greta with her two large, hungry-looking hounds … then the virtue signallers got all angry and started calling him names. Public outrage has hit its zenith while reason and tolerance (and a sense of humour) have vapourised.
But here is the thing. As the climate discussions veered off into a question of catastrophe, collapse and extinction, should we be so surprised that the alarmists and Armageddonist death cults are filling the headlines with utter nonsense? It shouldn’t be news that the opportunists were all at the UN in New York touting their interests and lobbies as the only way to survive the certain coming of a mass human extinction. The End of Days, like any shared public fear, has marketing value.
The reality is that forcing people to give up things they like (travelling, eating meat, having pets…) will not work, will not be accepted and will not do much to “cool” the planet (but it will make the activists feel like they are doing something). Supporting industries investing in sustainable innovations and technologies can make a big difference but this is not the business of the NGOs. Even worse, most activists, like Extinction Rebellion’s Rupert Read, blinded by his green dogma, want to see the end of these industries, capitalism, international trade and finance. So they smugly signal to us how wonderful they are in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Risk-Monger is watching all of this insanity from his dusty basement, but any time he taps something on his ten-year-old HP, his fingers get burnt with the outrage of accusation. Three months ago I could sometimes have a rational conversation on how to engage the public on climate … now, the self-righteous alarmists bring up what kind of father I am (spoiler alert: a pretty bad one). I’ve been warned, cursed and insulted. I’ve been made afraid. I have been swarmed on by angry (rather idiotic) science communicators who like to use teenagers for their messaging. I have stood firm.
Until now that is. I have decided to join the zealots and so today I am putting forward my list of what we need to sacrifice to save the planet. Naturally, like all of the other fundamentalists, what I am telling you to sacrifice is shaped by my interests, by who pays my rent and does not include giving up things and activities I personally like (as in keeping my pets). Yes, the Risk-Monger can out-hypocrite even the biggest hypocrites.
So here are the Risk-Monger’s Five Sacrifices to save the planet – things you have to stop doing if we’ll ever have a chance of stopping climate change.
1. Stop framing it as an “Us Versus Them” battle against climate deniers
This is a tough one to give up because after all, who doesn’t like to righteously pour scorn on the scapegoats?
The UK’s Prince Harry last month said he could not understand how anyone could possibly deny the science on climate. The facts, he says, have been around for 30 years and they are undeniable. I’ll bet four trips on private jets that the Prince is right, except that the climate denial debate he is referring to was finished a couple decades ago. Today people like the Risk-Monger are called climate deniers when he questions whether humanity will go extinct in the next decade. He is definitely a denier if he disagrees that renewables are a better solution than nuclear or whether we really should be letting a 16-year-old lead this discussion. Calling someone a “climate denier” means that the person does not buy into the widely-shared orthodoxy or donate to the latest activist campaign. The Prince is out of touch.
Whenever I hear “Listen to the Science”, my ears prick up since those who use it then jump to conclusions (like a coming mass extinction of humanity) that “the science” doesn’t actually say. The climate denial accusation is code to scare people from having a rational discussion on the best means to address the climate change challenges. There is no longer a serious “Us versus Them” on whether climate change is happening but rather a series of complex questions on the best way to manage the situation, over which time-frame and at which cost society is prepared to pay.
If you want to save the planet, then give up the screeching ad hominem rhetoric and try to be a little more rational, listen to other ideas on how to reduce CO2 emissions (and try to be nice).
2. Stop thinking climate change can only be addressed by dismantling the capitalist system
You will not save the world by leading a climate revolution. You will only be useful idiots to single-minded political opportunists who use fear and outrage as tools to undermine trust and credibility in institutional structures. When Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Roger Hallam, or its main spokesperson, Rupert Read say that capitalism is crumbling because of the climate catastrophe it has brought upon itself, we need to understand that the alternatives they are proposing after their revolution (no international trade, banking, industry or agriculture beyond local smallholders) will doom us to the catastrophe they predicted.
There will be a need for more concerted effort in large capital investments like nuclear power plants, sustainable housing projects, rebuilding transportation systems and power-train technologies. A global problem cannot be resolved by going local and blocking international trade and finance. Just from the perspective of the climate damage demands likely to be put on the reinsurance industry, this anti-capitalist strategy is not only ridiculous, it would also lead to massive destruction of lives and resources.
The rise of Extinction Rebellion and their rejection of capitalism and technology sounds frankly like it was scripted from a bad Matt Damon movie or a good Monty Python joke. If you want to save the planet then capitalist leaders need to be freed up to focus on innovations and solutions.
3. Stop Social Justice Creep
It would take a very ignorant person to not have noticed how the climate change debate has shifted from one concerned about the best means to reduce CO2 emissions to a rabid discussion on how to punish industry, commerce and privilege. A politically-woke far left has gone even further and brought race and gender politics into the climate narrative. Greta has not only become a lightening rod for the NGOs and activist gurus to push the urgency of their concept of cataclysmic climate change, she has also served as a battering ram for zealots to attack white, middle-aged males whom they perceive as climate deniers. This has nothing to do with the dialogue on how to cut CO2 emissions, but the far left really never wanted to just have that debate.
The organic food industry lobby recently recruited some lawyers and social justice theorists to convert the debate on sustainable agriculture to a question of how agroecology will liberate developing country smallholders from exploitation from big, Western chemical companies. This has nothing to do with agriculture technology and recent agroecology lobbying of African leaders in Kenya and Uganda will certainly lead to more hardship and food shortages.
When social justice arguments creep into scientific debates, it is no longer a conversation on facts, best practices or solutions but rather on the implementation of desired social structures. These conversations emanate as a distraction to science debates (often when the facts are against the social justice ideologues). If you want to save the planet, then your politics, gender or race are not the only things that matter.
4. Stop propagating one-size-fits-all solutions
A mass global campaign needs clear, simple ideas that can fit any scenario. But climate change or sustainable agriculture is not like that. So the narrative needs to line up into predetermined boxes with actors fitting into certain roles (think of a plot out of the Hunger Games series): irresponsible do-nothing governments, greedy, polluting industry, a corporate media, courageous scientists, brave citizens and an inspiring youth. All we need to do is make people aware and everyone will change, then with a flick of the switch, we will slay this dragon before it burns us all.
Sorry Mr Hallam but life is not like that and your simplistic solutions will likely lead us to the doom you are trying to prevent. There is no single approach to the climate challenges and the first rules are flexibility and adaptability.
One of the most misguided documents I have read this year was the EAT-Lancet report. Combining a simplistic view of agriculture with an alarmist conclusion on climate stresses, a self-selected body of experts decided to create an homogeneous global diet to save the world. That livestock are raised differently according to land-use, weather and economy; that diets reflect lifestyles and societal structures; that public health trends reflect culture as much as physiology; none of this matters when you are trying to impose simplistic, single-message global campaigns.
On energy, I find the solar panels on my roof to be a case study in justified stupidity. For six months of the year, in cloudy Belgium, I need to rely on the grid for most of my electricity with only three months where the yield justifies the CO2 emitted to make and recycle those panels. (I also had to lop off the tops of a few trees prior to installation). But the state subsidies made it financially attractive for Casa Monger to “go green” (while my less affluent neighbours have to struggle with wildly inflated energy costs). Solar panels make sense in sunny, dry climates, wind turbines maybe on mountains or off-shore, but to think that renewables are efficient in all situations is, well, unjustified stupidity.
If you want to save the planet, accept the complexity of the issues and be a little more “ideologically flexible“.
5. Stop thinking your “sacrifice” is the solution
I get that people feel they need to do something when facing a crisis. The most compelling argument protesters on the streets often repeat is that they will be able to tell their children or grandchildren they took a stand when the planet needed them. They proudly claim they are eating less meat, not flying, using public transport … and that’s enough. Bjørn Lomborg cites, for example, how going meat-free for the rest of your life would only result in a 2% reduction in personal CO2 emissions. Given that individuals emit far less of a percentage of global greenhouse gases than industry or the planet itself, having this discussion is like spitting into a furnace to try to cool the room.
Yes, but every bit counts and even if the cut is just 2%, that still matters, right? Well, given the cumulative effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that would be like thinking you could pay off the 18% interest on your credit card with the 2% yield from your savings account. Aggressive approaches into disruptive technologies (energy, power train technology, ag-tech, CCS, polymers…) is what urgently needs to be taken. More important than what’s on your plate, we need to step up to the plate and demand more science and technology to address these challenges (something the Fridays For Future school strikes failed to grasp).
When feel-good facilitators are selling false hopes in these little gestural sacrifices (while convincing you the industries and financial system needed to innovate are not welcome) these little changes become counter-productive. There aren’t enough climate entrepreneurs like Bill Gates in this world with the strength and resolve to withstand the power of these closed-minded zealots.
If you want to save the planet, accept that it doesn’t just depend on you. Get over yourself. Treatments are available for dogmatic zealot complex.
How Dare You!
Of course the Risk-Monger is way out of line here. Once again he is looking for delaying tactics, more of the status quo and more time for industry to continue to profit. It’s people like him we need to fight – the time for talking is well past. Our house is on fire and we need to panic.
Why will so few people adopt The Risk-Monger’s Five Sacrifices? Why will this little ditty annoy more the attract? Why does the thought of open dialogue fill people with outrage?
The Risk-Monger’s Five Sacrifices are not really sacrificial in the atonement sense. Any religion needs its followers to experience some denial, some suffering, to make the selfless salvation all the more worthy.
Extinction Rebellion is a fundamentalist death cult intent on inducting rebels drunk with fear and outrage willing to strangle the throat of capitalism.
Environmentalism is a vulgar religion whose pews are filled with an eco-faithful who have sinned (gravely) and seek atonement. And as the gurus preach their fire and brimstone sermons against the great triumvirate of evil (industry, scientists and Bill Gates) the rage is focused on those heretics who dare question their orthodoxy.
The actions on the streets of London over the last week are not actually debates or discussions. Extinction Rebellion is a fundamentalist death cult intent on inducting rebels drunk with fear and outrage willing to strangle the throat of capitalism. Roger the Revolutionary’s useful idiots are ready to sacrifice everything … the time for thinking has passed.