It is not right – the thrust of the green movement displayed around COP26 is deadly in many ways. It has become a pagan cult, we have long known that, but worse: it is displacement activity, preventing the world from taking real action. Virtue signalling kills.
We have seen the central focus of COP26, of Extinction Rebellion, namely the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and that this focus has overwhelmed all other considerations. It is today’s scare, and has become the touchstone for measuring virtue – but all that is nonsense. This is not to say that carbon dioxide and other gases do not heat up the world, but a moment’s thought should throw it into shadow. If we turn to gaze at this one issue to the exclusion of all others, we cannot hear the weeping in the shadows. Perhaps that is the point: we do not want to hear it.
If the whole world were to go “carbon neutral” overnight, it would be two hundred years before the composition of the atmosphere will rebalance. The world will continue to heat up, mildly. Arguing over going neutral in 2030 or 2060 is not irrelevant – it is the build-up over many years which would matter – it is that this is not an on-off switch. If the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is enough to heat the world by a degree or two on average, it will continue to heat up long after we have all gone over to clean energy. What are we doing in those years and centuries?
If the changing climate is harmful to vulnerable parts of the world, why is everything being done on the possible cause, but nothing being done to alleviate the results? I suspect because the latter requires actual work involving actual people – just deindustrialising for carbon dioxide neutrality is a matter of charts, laws, statistics, and it is something you can scream about in the street – actually helping societies to adapt to a change in the weather is unglamorous and might involve doing something practical. That is too horrible for an individual to contemplate.
That many churches should have abandoned the Gospel for this Gaia worship is revolting. (Not all have, and thank goodness for the fixed lectionary on in these times to keep them to a course.) I take it as a way to be seen to do something while not actually doing anything, or making an actual effort.
Worse than this: the practical solution to many of these issues is to lift people out of poverty so that they can make their own solutions and protect their families, but the actions demanded by those in ivory towers in wealthy nations would be to close their economies and drive them into poverty. It is no wonder if those in the developing world think that the West is saying “we became rich through burning coal and oil to lift ourselves to unprecedented wealth, but you are not allowed to.” Farmers in the developing world will be harmed by a changing climate, but they will be harmed even more by being forced into poverty. Just seeing one problem and not all the others is lethal. It is like those comic books where Batman saves the girl but destroys Gotham City and presumably kills thousands to do so. The world is not a comic.
If we then take it that the climate is changing, which we must because the climate is always changing. then the first duty is to determine where it will change and how, and to adapt for it. Blame is just a harmful distraction. If rainfall will lessen, then hardier crops are required; if rainfall will increase, then again a change in agriculture, and building techniques may be needed. This should hardly be a challenge – mankind lives across the whole face of a world with endless variations of climate. We can always ask a neighbour. Where then were those questions at COP26?
There may be positive effects too, but it may be mankind’s ingenuity which finds them. Why in the Roman Empire, when the climate was warmer than now, was all North Africa’s coastland a garden for growing wheat and barley for the empire? Or was it (as I have heard asserted by an agricultural botanist) that this monoculture denuded the soil and created the desert: mankind’s destroying hand. Or maybe the warming climate heralds the return of the endless cornfields? That is a worthy job for science to examine.
The greatest practical step forward at COP26, if it can be made to stick, is an agreement against deforestation. That is not something which we would have to wait 200 years to feel the benefit of: it is here and now. Mankind can and does change the climate locally, and hewing down the trees is the most devastating way we do. Deserts have spread where trees once stood, coast have been washed into the sea, and where monsoon rains are no longer swallowed up by eager tree roots, floods plunged down, scouring all before them, destroying villages and farms over thousands of square miles.
There is no doubt that mankind changes the environment and the climate. The causes of short-term destruction must be dealt with. Slow, long-term changes might or might not be halted in two hundred years or so, but in that time each community must learn and adapt.
- Ethiopia, mending Paradise
- Between two fires
- We are going green
- Maddening the priests
- Eschatological Rebellion
- Tempestuous climate on QT
- A less preachy BBC: praise be
- 4IR: understanding and fear
- Hard Green: Saving The Environment From The Environmentalists A Conservative Manifesto by Peter Huber
- By Sir Roger Scruton:
- Others on the environment:
- Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock
The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock
- Green States and Social Movements by John S. Dryzek, David Downes, Christian Hunold, David Schlosberg, Hans-Kristian Hernes
- By Thomas Hobbes :