Dr. David Cowan
Have you ever been to a race-track or put money on horses? There are many kinds of bets you can place, and most of the time you’ll lose. The simplest kinds of bets are a “To Win” or an “Each-Way” bet, which means putting your money on a winning horse or hedging your bets on a win or a placed horse.
The climate lobby, having lost two “To Win” bets, namely “global freezing” in my teens and “global warming” more recently, has placed an each-way bet by changing the cause and calling it “climate change.” Well of course, the climate changes, tediously obvious. Also like the racetrack, much depends upon the assumptions you build into your decision-making model, with the bookies relying on the vast majority of punters being stupid.
What the environmental lobby does is to use language to obfuscate and control, so that anyone who questions or clarifies is a “denier,” or should we say “envirophobic,” is that a thing?
I had a most enjoyable lunch with the philosopher Roger Scruton, a fellow envirophobe I guess, in Washington DC some time back, and we compared notes as two people who had grown up in England a decade or so apart - I’m the younger! We both recalled the same thing, that in his childhood of the 1950s and mine in the 1960s, we had been taught we should conserve nature and respect animals.
This notion of “conserve,” however, got politicalized and radicalized into an “ism” as we grew older, which means it lost its moorings in reality and has become ideological. This is what happens with “isms.” Just as the poor become an object, as I wrote in yesterday’s blog, so nature becomes objectivized.
When I worked at the World Bank I met too many “environmentalists” who had bulging passports with visas in them and masses of frequent flyer miles, flying on free tickets in First Class, to take many of them seriously. They have to have a meeting in Rio to discuss the agenda in Bangkok that will decide the meeting date for a global convention in Bora Bora. Why not meet in Gary, Indiana, or England’s Bognor Regis? While they’re at it, why don’t they put their carbon footprint on the agenda?
Better still, why not Skype or have mini-meeting groups in other conferencing modes? The market economy has generated the technology that makes it carbon-cheap to meet online and exchange views, but then, oh gosh, what about the parties in exotic locations with servers on less than the minimum wage?
Environmentalism as a political ideology is an attack on the market economy, or the capitalist world as they see it. It is also, ironically, an “ism” that can only breed because of the globalization generated by the market economy. They want a global approach, so they travel globally to enforce it through global agencies. The agency of the individual is lost. Curiously, environmental lobbyists call conservatives "authoritarian," whilst they themselves assert their global authoritarianism on the world.
I like Professor Scruton’s approach, where he suggests we need conservation and we need to start with people having a love of their home environment, which means a respect for nature, for others and for property. We also need to take greater moral responsibility as individuals. The problem with “isms” and statist solutions is that they encourage abdication of responsibility. It is, after all the government’s problem to solve or is too big for the individual to do anything, so we can go on being selfish in our own environment so long as we say the right thing.
I believe in conservation. I also believe that technology, innovation and human ingenuity can help us conserve the planet. But so long as we have an ideologically driven debate, fueled by gimmicky marketeers and science groups matching research to where pubic and private funding will take them, then we will remain with the current infantile debate and fail future generations.
Mother Jones article, with thanks for the image: When Did Republicans Start Hating the Environment?
The Roger Scruton interview: Why Conservatives Should Care About the Environment