Who Knew Greens Had Such Power?

If only their views weren’t so influential, in schools, universities, in the media, in the corridors of power, the global economy wouldn’t be nearly in the mess it’s in today.

There are many chestnuts in this Delingpole screed, but that one was news to me. I’m going to rewrite the first sentence of his column:

Just imagine a world where you never had to worry about demagogues and their corrosive effect…

 

 

57 Responses to “Who Knew Greens Had Such Power?”

  1. harrywr2 says:

    The view in the UK is significantly different from the view in the US.
    I would expect the ‘official’ global warming view in any ‘coal importing’ country to be similar to the ‘global warming view’ in the UK.
    Free trade agreements generally prohibit the taxation of imported products at rates different then domestic products.
    In the case of oil the way countries generally get around this is by saying automobile fuel consumption has a relation to road upkeep costs.
    Without an official UN position on ‘Global Warming’ making the case that electricity produced from imported coal or imported natural gas should be taxed at a different rate then electricity produced by wind, solar or nuclear then it would be a violation of free trade.
    The GMO debate in Europe is similar. Most ‘GMO’ foods are imported.
    Show me a way to dress up ‘Protectionism’ in a way that doesn’t violate free trade agreements and I will show you something that becomes ‘official policy’ regardless of the scientific evidence.

  2. Jarmo says:

    Greens shut down nuclear power in Germany and have been influential in fighting against it in other countries.

    Perhaps their most significant contribution besides promoting biofuels and trying to ban GM foods. 

     

  3. Joshua says:

    “If only their views weren’t so influential, in schools, universities, in the media, in the corridors of power, the global economy wouldn’t be nearly in the mess it’s in today.”
     
    Yes. Indeed. Particularly in the U.S.
     
    Imagine how much fairer (not to mention economically beneficial) our energy policies would be if the fossil fuel lobby some some influence in policy development.  Or energy companies. Or the financial industries that profit from trading in those other industries.
     
    Oh, the humanity!

  4. Nullius in Verba says:

    First Morano? And complaining about Delingpole, now? Hmm.
    Not that Delingpole will complain – as with Morano, he sees it as a sign of success.
     
    “But the greens refuse to accept this because, according to their quasi-religious doctrine, industrial civilisation is a curse and economic growth a disease which can only be cured by rationing and self-sacrifice, higher taxes and greater state control.”
     
    I think the aspects he’s talking about are the higher taxes and greater state control. I agree that it’s an economic argument accepted more on the right than the left, and I therefore wouldn’t expect you to accept it as true, but it shouldn’t be news to anyone that many people on the right believe high-tax big-state thinking has led to the current economic mess.
    Remember, in the UK, every mainstream political party is Green, and in favour of taxes and government regulation for dealing with it. This is not the USA.
     
    Incidentally, I see he says “Almost every day, on Twitter or by email, I get violent messages of hate directed not just at me, but even my children.” I think someone recently said this was the sort of thing we needed to call out more. Well, here’s another opportunity!

  5. Sashka says:

    @ 3

    What policies you see as “unfair” and what specifically you want instead?

  6. Joshua says:

    @5 –
     
    You do realize I was being sarcastic, right (I realize there was a typo)?
     
    What I want instead is to have energy policies that aren’t so heavily influenced by the fossil fuel, energy, and financial industries. I think that the whining in the statement Keith quotes is absurd.
     
    I’m a believer in policies that are developed through comprehensive stakeholder dialog. I think that not only are such policies more
    “fair,” I also think that they have an advantage in gaining more acceptance and greater buy-in. I’d say that the whining factor could be reduced by at least 1/2.

  7. Jack Hughes says:

    The green religion has a tight grip in schools in the UK.

    My daughters UK primary school had WWF stickers on every light switch and power socket. They had an eco-club that sent nagging letters to parents about recycling and driving.

    All the big political parties buy into the green stuff – eg Cameron chose the slogan “vote blue go green” His Conservative party dumped their previous logo of a red-white-blue torch in favour of a brown and green tree.

    The BBC is in the tank for the enviros – in fact several beebers are named in the climategate emails.

    The greenie obsession with windmills is behind a 20% increase in electricity prices – this kind of thing will never help the economy.

     

  8. Joshua says:

    @7 – Jack
     
    Would you mind explaining how Greens have managed to gain such a vice-like grip in Great Britain?
     
    Is it because Greens have established an authoritarian dictatorship that doesn’t allow dissent or debate, or is it because the policies and political platforms developed and implemented reflect the will of voters?

  9. EdG says:

    “Who Knew Greens Had Such Power?”

    Well, he did put it in the past tense. Not to dismiss their current power but it ain’t what it used to be. They bet the farm on the Great Climate Scare and lost.

    The credibility of the whole ‘environmental movement’ is headed down the tubes, rapidly, thanks to the ideologues and entrepreneurs who hijacked it for their own purposes. 

    Crying wolf has inevitable consequences.

  10. Joshua says:

    EdG –
     
    Did you read Jack’s post?

  11. Anteros says:

    Once in a while I bemoan the fact that under all the unpleasantness, paranoia and nonsense, there is something I agree with in Delingpole’s rants.
    Luckily not here!!
    If anyone is interested in his purity of heart and honesty on the issues he writes about, check out his denizen bio on Jeff Id’s blog [147, if my link doesn’t work..]
    Delingpole at Jeff Id’s

    Just to contradict myself slightly, I do find the influence of politically correct alarmism in schools slightly problematic. The one saving grace is that paranoia apart, children rarely keep the prejudices they pick up at school. They’re just as likely to revolt against it in their teenage years as a badge of honour.
     
    But I can’t say that children coming home from school tearfully informing their parents that we’re all going to burn to a crisp is particularly edifying.
     
    If anything it probably says something about the demographic of primary school teachers, but as Joshua is in the vicinity I should say again that I’m not overly alarmed and it “isn’t the end of the world” 🙂

  12. Marlowe Johnson says:

    It’s interesting to see the European/North American divide here.  With the exception of the UK I think a strong case can be made that the fact that ‘Greens’ have far more political power in Europe is a direct consequence of proportional rather than first-past-the-post electoral systems.  One wonders how different north american politics would look if it were to adopt the same kind of democratic rules as the rest of the western world….

  13. EdG says:

    #10 – Joshua

    Yes I did. Which is why I specifically stated: “Not to dismiss their current power” before saying “but it ain’t what it used to be.”

    Tis a rapidly changing world and green power, like their credibility, is receding faster than an Arctic ice floe in late August. 

    Big news from Germany today, in case you missed it. And even Richard Black, the BBC’s Head AGW Parrot, has written a blog that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.

    And, of course, China just told the EU to stuff the airline carbon tax while in the US, the former ‘climate healer’ Barack Solyndra has gone predictably silent.

    In the meantime, Marlowe has just explained why neither Canada or the US will ever adopt the voting methods of the EU (for the things the EU actually allows people there to vote on). Not surprisingly, the top-down brain-dead self-serving EU bureaucracy is the last stronghold of the AGW idiocy.

  14. Keith Kloor says:

    EdG,

    Your acidic style is wearing thin with me. I’m not moderating the blog as much as I did when I was blogging regularly. But when I find myself catching up with your comments, I see you’re degenerating back into your into your old sarcastic nastiness.

    So consider this an overdue warning, which applies to other folks as well, such as Hunter and BBD, who I’ve noticed in recent weeks have been engaging in petty squabbles.

    You guys are making comment threads unpleasant will all your name calling and attempts at point-scoring. 

    I’m sure I’ve left a few others out… 

  15. EdG says:

    OK Keith. Here’s the nice version of my last post.

    #10 ““ Joshua
    Yes I did. Which is why I specifically stated: “Not to dismiss their current power” before saying “but it ain’t what it used to be.”
    Tis a rapidly changing world and green power, like their credibility, is receding fast. 
    Big news from Germany today and even the BBC’s Richard Black has written a blog that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.
    And in the real world China just officially informed their airlines that they must not subject themselves to the EU’s airline carbon tax while in the US Obama has become silent on the climate issue.

    In the meantime, Marlowe has just explained why neither Canada or the US will ever adopt the voting methods of the EU (for the things the EU actually allows people there to vote on). Not surprisingly, the EU is the last stronghold of the AGW project.

    P.S. I don’t see anything particularly acidic or nasty in my other post here, but maybe you do?

  16. Paul in Sweden says:

    The kids are not as stupid as they are often made out to be. The children know what “correct” answer is expected and they are very adept at not rocking the boat. The 18yr old we have here in Sweden explained things quite clearly to us.

    My brother-in-law shot me a glance at a family gathering when the kid told us that it had cost me almost 500 bucks out of the 3000 dollars that we had to cough out for her to get her drivers license so she could learn of the possible alternative driving methods to reduce the impact of automobiles on the environment.

    How are GREENS influential on our daily life? I think if we look at the compensation packages of the CXOs or the WWF, Green Peace and similar mega-activist groups the proper question would be “How the hell do activist journalists expect us to believe that the hundreds of millions of dollars annually being poured out by the GREENS do not negatively effect the quality of life of humans living today and severely impair the quality of life of our offspring?”.

  17. Jack Hughes says:

    I never thought I would have to tell my daughter to lie in order to pass her SCIENCE exams.

  18. Matt says:

    Well, there’s one thing you can say for Delingpole: at least he wears his political allegiance on his sleeve.

  19. hunter says:

    Keith,
    Warning noted. I would suggest that the discussion should not be Delingpole so much as political organizations like Greenpeace are controlling sections of UN reports. That big green groups are imposing curriculum in schools. That big green pushed the EPA to break its own procedures in order to declare CO2 a “pollutant”, And then influenced regulations of CO2. And then add to that direct tax payer operating subsides of green approved energy, and government guaranteed loans for green approved business. For most people, that would be considered a lot of influence.

  20. Sashka says:

    @ 6

    What I want instead is to have energy policies that aren’t so heavily influenced by the fossil fuel, energy, and financial industries.

    In other words, no specifics will be provided? Pity.

    I think that the whining in the statement Keith quotes is absurd.

    I think your whining and that quoted by Keith are quite similar.
     
    I’m a believer in policies that are developed through comprehensive stakeholder dialog.

    I often hear that the principal stakeholders in the GW problem are our unborn grandchildren. How do our propose to bring them to the table?

  21. jeffn says:

    My daughter has been instructed in second grade to lecture my wife and I on the need to drive less. The funny part is that despite the fact that we can see the school from our house, they fenced it off from the neighborhood and require that you put the kids on a quarter-full diesel bus that gets, what, five miles to the gallon. It gets worse- the feds require that all kids be strapped into bulky car seats or boosters and only in the back seat. With kid three now on the way, it will soon be almost impossible to drive my kids in my small Honda (32mpg) but must use the minivan (17 mpg).

  22. Sashka says:

    Every time my kids get together with friends I insist on carpooling even if the distance is trivial. Needless driving annoys me.

  23. Joshua says:

    Sashka –
     
    I’ll take Keith’s admonishment to heart.
    My sense is that you’re not interested in a respectful dialog. I acknowledge that you seem to think the same of my intent.
    I waste more than enough time in petty bickering over at Judith’s abode.
     

  24. Sashka says:

    I tried to ask you a direct question (which is not a sign of disrespect where I come from)  but you don’t seem to be interested in answering.

    Thanks for stopping bye.

  25. Paul in Sweden says:

    “I’m a believer in policies that are developed through comprehensive stakeholder dialog.”

    I second that Sashka #20. Now how do we proceed? When will taxpayer financed temperature & climate data be declassified from “State Secrets” to “available to the common man”?

    With the truly astronomical financial investments flippantly cast out by NASA GISS Hippie Hansen as he is hauled off to jail I have to wonder why true cost benefit analysis studies are not put into play.

    During the 70s I built solar ovens and soldered PV arrays together. Still today I would love the technology to flourish. Reality gets in the way. I still wonder if I made a mistake of not becoming a forest ranger instead of joining the high tech network and communications world.

    As a realist I recognize that there is an unmeasurable anthropogenic effect on our climate masked in natural climate variations.

    Taking food from my mouth and calling it bio-fuel does not seem like a solution. PV and wind are pipe dreams.

    As a realist, quite frankly you might as well tell me the Sun is going to go into NOVA in 100 years. There is nothing I can do about it. The problem presented by activists of the Global Warming movement have no reasonable cost effective solution. Tell me my house is on fire and that I must take a second mortgage out and promise my first born and in return as part of the KK “climate-concerned-community” you will endeavor to put out the flames in the closet in my fully engulfed first floor of my home but my house will be lost regardless.

    We need research on PV & wave(not really but there are lots of real alternative energy projects that are lacking funding because of this leftist Global Warming dribble), not legislative mandates for implementations prior to the technologies being ready for prime time.

    We need current implementation and continued research on Gen IV nuclear power.

    The divide between climate realists and climate alarmists is REALITY.

    If climate alarmists can demonstrate a ready and constant supply of pixie dust and ground Unicorn horn as they frequently proclaim I am all for it and would vote for the closing of all coal mines and oil extraction facilities.

    Like many others I feel you might as well tell me the Sun is going to explode tomorrow, there is nothing I can do about it but you still want me to empty my pockets and hand everything I have to you because you are a KK “climate-concerned-community” member.

    That just doesn’t float.

  26. Keith Kloor says:

    I fail to see what is objectionable to this suggestion (#6) by Joshua:

    I’m a believer in policies that are developed through comprehensive stakeholder dialog. I think that not only are such policies more”fair,” I also think that they have an advantage in gaining more acceptance and greater buy-in. I’d say that the whining factor could be reduced by at least 1/2.

    Is there something wrong with that approach?  

  27. jeffn says:

    There has been a comprehensive stakeholder dialogue for 22 years. It has determined not to do that which Joshua wishes to see done. Therefore Joshua would like to keep that process going until it provides the answer he wants. There is no reason to believe that will happen and no reason to believe this is because we’ve somehow failed to listen to all the stakeholders.
    In short, when I see sentences like this the best translation is: ” the moment you give up and just do whatever I want, we can move on. Until then, we’ll just have to keep talking.”
    Fine with me. As long as you’re just talking, you aren’t picking my pocket and I’m not the one who thinks this is urgent.

  28. Anteros says:

    Keith –
    You’re absolutely right. There is nothing wrong with Joshua’s statement. I applaud it and so would most people here.
     
    I think you slightly miss the point though. I agree that the anti-green tribalism has flipped off the scale on this thread, but Joshua’s plea for more stakeholder dialogue isn’t what is behind the disagreement – or the vehemence. I think most of us would prefer more stakeholder dialogue.
    Of course, you missed out Joshua’s first point, which I’ll turn round so it doesn’t have its current tribal spin
    What I want instead is to have energy policies that aren’t so heavily influenced by activists, ideologues and the PR wing of Greenpeace. And while we’re at it [as Jack Hughes says] can the light switches at my children’s school not have WWF stuck on them?”
    This is much more provocative than Joshua’s version but I don’t think it is objectionable.
    If we are reasonable, we need to keep distinctions between <b>some</b> and <b>all</b>. Joshua’s point was reasonable because he simply expressed an preference for <i>less</i> influence form energy companies, not none. I would like <i>less</i> influence from environmentalist [in some areas] but not none – they have a view to express.
    As a matter of fact I think we could do with a lot less influence from the energy companies too, which then leads me to think there is grounds for some fruitful debate.
     

  29. Anteros says:

    Ho ho.
    I’ve been away from C-a-S so long I forgot you have little buttons for </i>

  30. Sashka says:

    @ 26

    Yes there is. You need to identify the stakeholders and define what’s fair. Otherwise it’s vacuous.

  31. Sashka says:

    @ 25

    Sorry, Paul, but this is more like a rant than a coherent speech.

  32. Keith Kloor says:

    Sashka,

    You’re being cynical. It means what it means. When someone says he’s for “comprehensive dialogue” for the purposes of “greater buy-in” I’m thinking he’s looking to be inclusive, not exclusive.

     

  33. Paul in Sweden says:

    Sashka # 30 Says: “Sorry, Paul, but this is more like a rant than a coherent speech.”

    Sashka, I guess you are doomed to revisit these thoughts at the next failed climate conferences in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years and 40 years and so on.

    See you then, you must realize the lack of progress you have been making.

  34. Joshua says:

    Anteros –
     
    I can’t speak in depth to other the UK (which becomes relevant in the context of Delingpole’s comments), but I can speak to the U.S., and in my view the level of influence of the industries I referenced on energy policies relative to the influence of  “activists,” “ideologues from Greenpeace,” etc., is quite disproportionate. Now, I’m game for discussions as to whether there is some valid reason for such a disproportion of influence to be in play, but I will also note that with such disproportionate influence, you will have related phenomena of a lack of buy-in. I don’t know if you remember the famous contention of Dick Cheney – that informing the public of who his administration met with in crafting energy policies (the Cheney Energy Task Force)  was rightly privileged information. (Please also note that the infamous Kenneth Lay was identified as being a member of that task force, and that the influence is bipartisan: For example, there is a record of letters between economic adviser to Clinton and Obama, Lawrence Summers, and Kenneth Lay where Summers assures Lay in a hand-written note on a letter that: “PS – I’ll keep my eye on power deregulation and energy market infrastructure issues.”).
     
    Now I have read quite a bit of complaints from the UK “skeptics” about the level of influence from Greens. But let me ask you a question: Are you really saying that energy policies (as one area of discussion) in the UK are: (1) anywhere close to what environmentalist “advocates and ideologues” would have them be and that (2) such policies reflect that environmentalists have been able to achieve a level of influence that is clearly disproportionate to the level of support that exists for the related policies?
    Let’s take a look at the comment you pointed to:
    And while we’re at it [as Jack Hughes says] can the light switches at my children’s school not have WWF stuck on them?””
     
    Does that really seem like a plausible reflection of the influence of environmentalists? I haven’t been in any schools in the UK – but I strongly suspect that the observation is rather obviously false (absurdly hyperbolic) and likely to reflect an inaccurate take on the degree of influence of environmentalists.
     
    Anteros – you like to point to “alarmism.” Don’t you agree that Delingpole’s rhetoric, and much of the related comments we’ve seen, reflects an “alarmism” about the impact of environmentalists? Delingpole’s comments are attributing dire financial situations for hundreds of millions of people to the influence of environmentalists? 
    You are right to note that I am not saying that the industries I mentioned should have no influence. They are stakeholders. The questions for me are whether: (1) a comprehensive stakeholder dialogue has taken place (my answer is “no,” what’s yours?) and, (2) to the extent that any stakeholder dialogue has taken place, how is the influence of various stakeholders measured against some kind of analysis of who should have how much influence? Do you have some comprehensive analysis that speaks to measuring influence versus some a thorough treatise on who should have how much influence? How much influence should environmentalists have, Anteros? Do they have too much? Is that because you say that they are too “alarmist?” How am I to judge that when such a viewpoint seems often to be rooted in absurd “alarmism” (and certainly unqualified and/or validated assertions) on the part of critics of environmentalists?
    Please note that a comprehensive dialogue starts with a very aggressive process of informing the public. Citizen advocacy groups of all types are, specifically, invited to be at the table.

     

  35. hunter says:

    Joshua’s suggestion regarding stakeholder dialog is spot on. We are approaching that admirable more closely now that the consensus strangelhold on dialog is beginning to be broken. As seen in recent bankruptices here and in Germany and elsewhere, rent weekers and profiteers have taken advantage of the lack of dialog for far too long.
    I look forward to a robust discussion with, finally, both sides free to speak. We are not there yet: too much data is under control of people who are profiting from it and they are not sharing. But it is coming, step by step.
     

  36. Joshua says:

    jeffn –
     
    “There has been a comprehensive stakeholder dialogue for 22 years.”
     
    I suspect that you and I define “comprehensive stakeholder dialog” differently.

  37. Anteros says:

    Joshua –
     
    I agree with pretty much everything you say. And when you make the distinction between the UK and the US, even more so.
     
    Particularly -because it may not have been obvious elsewhere – alarmism about environmentalism can mirror alarmism about the climate. Delingpole is a good example of that and if I were being tribal, I’d swap him for Al Gore in a second. If there are subtle difference between climate alarmism and political alarmism I’m not going to nit-pick over them.
     
    Also, for the same reasons, I agree about the disproportionate influence (esp’ US) of industry v environmentalism and yes I’d even wish that to become more balanced.
     
    If I’m going to quibble, it would be that energy policy in the UK may well be influenced by interests out of proportion to the support throughout the country. I don’t know for sure, but a referendum on windmills might see a fair few taken down. What I’m saying here is that it is one area that environmentalism in the UK is having somewhere near a proportionate influence. Certainly in keeping the building of nuclear power stations at bay.
     
    The issue of the indoctrination of children is emotive and I reiterate the last point from my previous comment – we’re all likely to overplay the permanent influence of such things.
     
    I think it is also natural for children to be very motivated by even the suggestion that polar bears might become extinct – and end up chiding their parents for contributing to that terrible eventuality by leaving a light on. However, the world view of my many teenage nieces is quite stark – people are trashing the planet, running it out of resources, destroying everything of value through greed and polluting the atmosphere with Co2. It does sometimes appear that alternative perspectives are not on the curriculum.
     
    However, don’t forget that this is an impression [my impression] and may have a lot to do with the mentality of (young, mostly female) teenagers. I don’t necessarily believe the teaching profession is completely over-run with greenpeace activists. They are maybe just being taught to be ‘concerned’ about the world, which plays into the world view of their demographic.
     
    I’d have much more to be concerned about if Al Gore’s film was shown in all schools – which was advocated by many and required the high court to prevent.

  38. Joshua says:

    Anteros –
     
    “I think it is also natural for children to be very motivated by even the suggestion that polar bears might become extinct ““ and end up chiding their parents for contributing to that terrible eventuality by leaving a light on.”
     
    I think you may be too alarmed.
     
    Compare children chiding their parents about leaving a light on versus children chiding their parents to buy a bigger SUV, or a boat, or more electronic devices. Compare children chiding their parents to turn up the heat because it’s too cold, or the air conditioning because it’s too hot.
     
    Of course, that is all (both your comment and mine) overtly Western-centric, and I think that we’d agree that as such, it becomes significantly reduced in significance, particularly when we’re bringing this back to the influence of environmentalists on energy policies or economic trends that are global in reach.
     
    What are Chinese or Indian children chiding their parents to do?
     
    All things considered, I think that the fears about the influence of Greens may be somewhat overstated.
     
    As a side note, when I was a kid my mother (who grew up in the depression) constantly chided me to turn off the lights. Her mother would wash out plastic bags and reuse them endlessly. My grandmother’s parents would use every single part of the animals they raised on their farm. Concerns about “conservation” and “sustainability” are not new.

  39. Anteros says:

    Joshua –
     
    Fair points.
     
    If I make a distinction – which is maybe somewhat academic – it is that children chiding their parents for something for themselves is quite different to chiding them for a moral failing as a result of something they learned at school. It may have it’s own merits, even, but it is different.
     
    When you say that “the fears about the influence of Greens may be somewhat overstated” of course they are! In some quarters they are positively paranoic! And I think it quite appropriate that this is pointed out once in a while..
     
    On your side note, I have a similar background. My mother was an inveterate plastic bag washer, and no home-grown food was allowed to go to waste. I seem to remember that leaving lights on was tantamount to saying you were ready to give up the notion of pocket money..
     
    Maybe I think there is something of a difference between conservation due to practical and immediate reality, and the imposition of an ideology in places where it would be inappropriate – hence my frequent comparison of sustainability with righteousness.
     
    In the process of morphing from a minor moral idea to an overarching dogmatic principle, righteousness lost its usefulness and became stultifying [cf ‘those who make a virtue of righteousness will never become righteous’]. Where ‘sustainability’ moves out of the practical and local and toward the ubiquitous, something valuable gets lost and something unhelpful is gained.

  40. Sashka says:

    @ 32
     
    When someone says he’s for “comprehensive dialogue” for the purposes of “greater buy-in” I’m thinking he’s looking to be inclusive, not exclusive.
     
    I’m thinking he’s looking to include more greens and less “industry”. That would be “fair”. I could be wrong but wouldn’t explain.
     

  41. Joshua says:

    Anteros –
     
    “If I make a distinction ““ which is maybe somewhat academic ““ it is that children chiding their parents for something for themselves is quite different to chiding them for a moral failing as a result of something they learned at school. It may have it’s own merits, even, but it is different.”
     
    Perhaps. Might be worth some consideration. I’m not sure it’s completely academic. I will say, however, that surely if you’ve interacted with kids you know that they are likely to argue that failure to buy a bigger SUV is a moral failing on the part of their parents.
     
    “Maybe I think there is something of a difference between conservation due to practical and immediate reality, and the imposition of an ideology in places where it would be inappropriate ““ hence my frequent comparison of sustainability with righteousness.”


    Again – I think worthy of consideration. But IMO the distinctions that you’re creating there might be less categorical than how you conceive them. If you read Benjamin Franklin, as an example, you will see much discussion about the righteousness of sustainability. Righteousness is not, I would say, in any way disproportionately represented on either side of the debate. I’m not (necessarily) defending the all the righteousness we can see in today’s world attached to sustainability, but I would question the extent to which that particular righteousness has “become” stultifying or lose its usefulness. I tend to find righteousness pretty stultifying and useless across the board, and I would argue that “sustainability” isn’t particularly more righteousness now than it was when my mother “chastised” me to turn off the lights.

  42. Anteros says:

    Joshua –
     
    I think I didn’t make myself very clear. My comparison of righteousness and sustainability is not to say that sustainability is seen as a righteous thing – though it often is and that is problematic. It is to say they have both over time been seen as virtuous and this has led to something self-defeating.
     
    The comparison is simply that something was identified as a good thing – righteousness – and then tacked on to every behaviour, decision or action as its defining quality. In the process, it lost it usefulness and became a burden. So too – to some extent -with sustainability.
     
    Sustainable behaviours can be identified throughout human history [as well as unsustainable ones] We look at them and think – ah, that’s a good idea, so sustainability is a good thing, so we must apply it to everything. It should define whether anything is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This is a kind of ideological madness in its misunderstanding of people, processes and life.
     
    The history of development has been a history of change and experiment and the stepping from one thing to another – quite a few of which were decidedly unsustainable. To extract an idea from looking at history, lathering it up in moral goodness [or badness for its opposite] and insisting it be a applied to every future attempt at deliberate development is to not understand the way the real world works. It does indeed have the flavour [in its condemnation] of religious attitudes and I think it is healthy to speak out against it. Unsustainable practices are not necessarily bad.

  43. Joshua says:

    Anteros –
     
    “I think I didn’t make myself very clear.”


    Or maybe you’re just being generous there?
     
    “It is to say they have both over time been seen as virtuous and this has led to something self-defeating.


    I think that might be too absolute. It has been both self-sustaining and self-defeating. The fact that we’re still here despite a long association of righteousness with “sustainability” is evidence that if there is a negative balance, it isn’t extraordinarily negative. But yes, I agree, an over-application of the “goodness” of sustainability is counterproductive.


    ” Unsustainable practices are not necessarily bad.”


    We are in agreement. And the obvious counterpart to that is that sustainability is not necessarily bad. The problem is more, IMO, with  “righteousness.” It, too, might be considered both good and bad, but I associate righteousness with social or cultural bias – the reflexive human condition of pointing to the other as a way to inflate our own value. That is why I focus so specifically on how social or cultural biases are manifest in the climate debate – and more specifically on the tendency among “skeptics” to demonize their counterparts. 

  44. Anteros says:

    Joshua –
     
    Your final point contains something important [for me] I agree that there is nothing necessarily bad about sustainability. I think it would be very strange to say that there was. it seems to me to either have neutral or positive connotations, although I’d guess some people might not assume that perspective reading what I have to say on the matter.
     
    But like with righteousness, the politically correct imposition of it onto every situation is a very different thing. It misses the variety of life’s circumstances and I think can have negative results.
     
    A caricature – a very idealistic NGO wanders into a African region that is looking to develop – hospitals, schools, some mains electricity.
    Some of the people in the region have been trying to negotiate a loan to set up a small gas-fired power station buying future gas supplies with its successful export of organic beans to posh types in London and New York. Well, the NGO do not like this at all – no, no, no – it is very un-PC and huge efforts are made [+money spent, offers retracted] to persuade the said Africans to ditch the idea of the power station and settle for some more expensive solar panels [maybe bolstered by some biofuel diesel engines] because they are more sustainable. Here the sustainability is not neutral or positive (to my eyes) because it is an inappropriate imposition.
     
    Who knows, maybe the wise folks who cautioned that ‘those who make a virtue of righteousness will never be righteous’ could have said some thing similar about sustainability – that imposing it willy nilly may end up with losing the ability to change with the changing world. 
     
    I wouldn’t say I’m alarmed about such a thing – it’s just a casual observation 🙂

  45. Jack Hughes says:

    @Joshua

    The school switch stickers were hand-made by a teacher. She printed images from the WWF website onto sticky paper and stuck them on light switches and power sockets.

    Her favourite was the iconic polar-bear-on-mushroom-shaped-iceberg.

    She also  put hand-made signs on the water taps.

    Can you imagine the school allowing any other type of non-school message in every single class-room ? And in the corridors and toilets as well ?

  46. BBD says:

    Anteros
     
    Unsustainable practices are not necessarily bad.
     
    But they are self-limiting and inelegant.

  47. kdk33 says:

    Horse and buggy = sustainable

    automobile = ????
    —————————————
    Bleeding and leaches = sustainable

    Modern medicine = ????
    ——————————————–

    Silly

  48. Anteros says:

    BBD –
     
    You misunderstand the history of most unsustainable practices. They have been stepping stones without which you would still be living in a mud hut recycling horse dung with an unpleasant proportion of your children not living to the age of five.
     
    The major glories of the human enterprise have been predicated on leaps into new ventures – with sustainable practices or otherwise rather beside the point. To get to exploring the depths of the oceans, the Apollo missions and the astonishing achievements of modern medicine needed a whole host of unsustainable practices. All stepping stones.
     
    If you think that horse dung and dead children are more elegant, there are plenty of places in the world where you can live out your fantasy.

  49. Paul in Sweden says:

    Sashka Says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 4:38 pm
    “When someone says he’s for “comprehensive dialogue” for the purposes of “greater buy-in” I’m thinking he’s looking to be inclusive, not exclusive.
     
    I’m thinking he’s looking to include more greens and less “industry”. That would be “fair”. I could be wrong but wouldn’t explain.”
    I do not get this. The public discourse is almost a monologue by the Greens. It is accepted practice to dis-invite and exclude non-greens from public debate.
    Sashka, is it possible that I am not understanding your point? Are you stating that you actually feel it would be fair to reduce non-greens from public discourse further?

  50. BBD says:

    Anteros
     
    You misunderstand the history of most unsustainable practices. They have been stepping stones without which you would still be living in a mud hut recycling horse dung with an unpleasant proportion of your children not living to the age of five.
     
    I am talking about the present. As should be apparent. Please attempt to be less patronising in future.

  51. BBD says:

    kdk33
     
    Horse and buggy = sustainable
    automobile = ????
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Bleeding and leaches = sustainable
    Modern medicine = ????
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””“
    Silly


    This is little short of idiotic. From a C21st POV the internal combustion engine is not a sustainable technology. End of.
     
    And who ever said that modern medicine was ‘unsustainable’?
     
    Idiotic.

  52. BBD says:

    The problem with the contrarian mindset is that it is narrow and inflexible. It fails to distinguish between the discourse of environmentalism and the facts revealed by environmental science.
     
    Nitrogen. Fresh water. Climate change.
     
     

  53. Paul in Sweden says:

    BBD Says:
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:27 am

    The problem with the contrarian mindset is that…”
    BBD, do we really have to use this language when comparing the typical tax paying contrarian families to the radical leftists that infect & monopolize our media and live in polluted crime ridden tent occupy wall street styes as part their various democrat party movements?

  54. BBD says:

    Paul in Sweden 
     
    radical leftists that infect & monopolize our media and live in polluted crime ridden tent occupy wall street styes
     
    That’s a good example of the contrarian mindset failing to distinguish between the discourse of environmentalism (or at least some of it) and environmental science.
     
    So yes, I think we do have to use ‘this language’ – which is hardly strong, after all. Certainly not in comparison to your own.

  55. Steven Sullivan says:

    Ah, I see, it’s environmentalists who sh*tcanned the global economy in 2008.   That makes so much sense. 
     
    If you’re prone to delusion.
     
     
     
     

  56. Sashka says:

    @49
     
    Sashka, is it possible that I am not understanding your point? Are you stating that you actually feel it would be fair to reduce non-greens from public discourse further?
     
    No. I think he does.

  57. EdG says:

    Well, they certainly have fully infiltrated the education/indoctrination system:

    “Welcome to the National Center for Science Education’s climate change education initiative… 

    It is important for the science of climate change to be taught, both in formal and informal educational environments, in order for future citizens to be able to make scientifically informed decisions about the consequences of climate change. But educators face challenges in helping their students attain climate literacy. “Teaching about Climate Change” reviews these challenges and offers suggestions and resources to help meet them.

    The social controversy over climate change is in part due to climate change denial. In order to defend and support the teaching of climate change, it is important to understand “” and be able to rebut “” arguments about climate science, and to understand why people choose to attack such well-tested science. “Climate Change Denial” provides the essential tools, and also describes how climate change denial is already threatening the integrity of science education.”

    http://ncse.com/climate

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