The Inhumanity Of The Loathsome Green Agenda
‘Man is the measure of all things’, Greek philosopher Protagoras wrote over 2,500 years ago. Unfortunately, our elites today tend not to see it that way.
In recent years, the overused word ‘sustainability’ has fostered a narrative in which human needs and aspirations have taken a back seat to the green austerity of Net Zero and ‘degrowth’. [emphasis, links added]
The ruling classes of a fading West are determined to save the planet by immiserating their fellow citizens. Their agenda is expected to cost the world $6 trillion per year for the next 30 years.
Meanwhile, they will get to harvest massive green subsidies and live like Renaissance potentates.
In Enemies of Progress, author Austin Williams suggests that ‘the mantra of sustainability’ starts with the assumption that humanity is ‘the biggest problem of the planet’, rather than the ‘creators of a better future’.
Indeed, many climate scientists and green activists see having fewer people on the planet as a key priority. Their program calls not only for fewer people and fewer families but also for lower consumption among the masses.
They expect us to live in ever-smaller dwelling units, to have less mobility, and to endure more costly home heating and air-conditioning.
These priorities are reflected in a regulatory bureaucracy that, if it does not claim justification from God, acts as the right hand of Gaia and of sanctified science.
The question we need to ask is: sustainability for whom? US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently suggested that her department sees climate change as ‘the greatest economic opportunity of our time.’
To be sure, there is lots of gold in green for the same Wall Street investors, tech oligarchs, and inheritors who fund the campaigns of climate activists. They increasingly control the media, too.
The Rockefellers, heirs to the Standard Oil fortune, and other ultra-wealthy greens are currently funding climate reporters at organs like the Associated Press and National Public Radio.
Under the new sustainability regime, the ultra-rich profit, but the rest of us do not so much.
The most egregious example may be the forced take-up of electric vehicles (EVs), which has already helped to make Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, the world’s second-richest man.
Although improvements are being made to low-emissions vehicles, consumers are essentially being frogmarched into adopting a technology that has clear technical problems, remains far more expensive than the internal-combustion engine, and depends primarily on an electric grid already on the brink of blackouts.
Green activists, it turns out, do not expect EVs to replace the cars of hoi polloi. No, ordinary people will be dragooned to use public transport or to walk or bike to get around.
The shift to electric cars is certainly no win for the West’s working and middle classes. But it is an enormous boon to China, which enjoys a huge lead in the production of batteries and rare earth elements needed to make EVs, and which also figure prominently in wind turbines and solar panels.
China’s BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett, has emerged as the world’s top EV manufacturer, with big export ambitions.
Meanwhile, American EV firms struggle with production and supply-chain issues, in part due to green resistance to domestic mining for rare earth minerals. Even Tesla expects much of its future growth to come from its Chinese factories.
Building cars from primarily Chinese components will have consequences for autoworkers across the West.
Germany was once a car manufacturing giant, but it is expected to lose an estimated 400,000 car-factory jobs by 2030. According to McKinsey, the US’s manufacturing workforce could be cut by up to 30 percent.
After all, when the key components are made elsewhere, far less labor is needed from US and European workers. It’s no surprise that some European politicians, worried about a popular backlash, have moved to slow down the EV juggernaut.
This dynamic is found across the entire sustainability agenda. The soaring energy costs in the West have helped China expand its market share in manufactured exports to roughly equal that of the US, Germany, and Japan combined.
American manufacturing has dropped recently to its lowest point since the pandemic. The West’s crusade against carbon emissions makes it likely that jobs, ‘green’ or otherwise, will move to China, which already emits more greenhouse gases than the rest of the high-income world.
Meanwhile, the Chinese leadership is looking to adapt to changes in the climate, instead of undermining economic growth by chasing implausible Net Zero targets.
There are clear class implications here. California’s regulators recently admitted that the state’s strict climate laws aid the affluent, but hurt the poor.
These laws also have a disproportionate impact on ethnic-minority citizens, creating what attorney Jennifer Hernandez has labeled the ‘green Jim Crow.’
As China’s increasingly sophisticated tech and industrial growth is being joyously funded by US venture capitalists and Wall Street, living standards among the Western middle class are in decline.
Europe has endured a decade of stagnation, while Americans’ life expectancy has recently fallen for the first time in peacetime.
Deutsche Bank’s Eric Heymann suggests that the only way to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 is by squelching all future growth, which could have catastrophic effects on working-class and middle-class living standards.
Rather than the upward mobility most have come to expect, much of the West’s workforce now faces the prospect of either living on the dole or working at low wages.
Today, nearly half of all American workers receive low wages and the future looks worse. Almost two-thirds of all new jobs in recent months were in low-paying service industries. This is also true in Britain.
Over recent decades, many jobs that might have once supported whole families have disappeared. According to one UK account, self-employment and gig work do not provide sustenance for anything like a comfortable lifestyle.
Rates of poverty and food shortages are already on the rise. As a result, most parents in the US and elsewhere doubt their children will do better than their generation, while trust in our institutions is at historic lows.
The fabulists at places like the New York Times have convinced themselves that climate change is the biggest threat to prosperity.
But many ordinary folks are far more worried about the immediate effects of climate policy than the prospect of an overheated planet in the medium or long term.
This opposition to the Net Zero agenda was first expressed by the gilet jaunes movement in France in 2018, whose weekly protests were initially sparked by green taxes.
This has been followed by protests by Dutch and other European farmers in recent years, who are angry at restrictions on fertilizers that will cut their yields.
The pushback has sparked the rise of populism in a host of countries, notably Italy, Sweden, and France. Even in ultra-with-it Berlin, a referendum on tighter emissions targets recently failed to win over enough voters.
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