Three pieces in today’s Australian (one news item and two opinion pieces) nicely demonstrate what we are up against with the new green religion. All three show just how fuzzy the thinking can be, how cloudy the morality usually is, and how hypocritical the new true believers so often are.
The first piece speaks of the new green wowserism. Greg Melleuish says these wowsers want people to be better – but on their own terms. They have a better humanity in mind, and all of us are expected to get on board. In their version of utopia, animals get a good run while humans don’t. He says:
“It is worth observing that Hitler and his fellow Nazis were very concerned about cruelty to animals and introduced legislation that made Germany a world leader in this area. They restricted their cruelty only to those people whom they regarded as inferior, all in the name of improving the human race.
“Wowsers and eugenicists generally go together as they see the key to a better world lying in the creation of better human beings. Eradicate evils and that will be possible. The idea that it is the task of the government to improve the people who are entrusted to their care is very dangerous. Are people who do not eat meat or play the poker machines really better than those who do? Do we want the state to attempt to create a utopia of good people who have had their bad bits excised?
“It is not surprising that wowserism should come to prominence again in tandem with the growing strength of the Greens. The Greens are the latest manifestation of a sort of moralistic puritanism that has been part of Australia since the First Fleet. Australians must change their evil ways. The Greens see themselves as the enforcers who will achieve that change, thereby leading the country into the sustainable utopia.
“In such a utopia the status of animals would rise and that of humans fall. It is no longer necessary to sterilise the unfit. With the advance of medicine they can be detected and disposed of while still in the womb.”
Henry Ergas explains how green carbon taxes will also be bad for people – certainly in terms of their pocketbooks – while doing little good for the environment: “According to a recent study by AGL, a strong advocate of an ETS, the running cost of a base-load gas plant is six times that of Victorian brown coal. Given those cost differentials, changing the generation mix requires swinging penalties on low-cost energy sources, with AGL estimating that a $30 a tonne carbon tax – not even enough to cause widespread substitution – would increase the running cost of brown coal plants by 10.2 times.
“That 10-fold increase would not just hit struggling residential consumers. One-third of our direct emissions from electricity generation are associated with electricity use in manufacturing. Our trade-exposed industries would therefore suffer a double whammy as they were taxed both directly and through higher input costs.
“The resulting losses might be worth bearing if they materially reduced the risk of dangerous climate change. But it is clear from the commission’s report that current global efforts are derisory. True, the eight countries the Productivity Commission analysed have more than a thousand policies in place, many focused on electricity generation. But in aggregate those policies yield barely 210 million tonnes of electricity sector abatement.
“Take China, the world’s largest and most rapidly growing emitter, which the Garnaut report says has ‘pledged large reduction targets, implemented reforms that deliver on its commitments, and set sail on a global mission to dominate new opportunities’. But the PC finds China’s abatement affects barely 1 per cent of its electricity emissions, while its abatement outlays, at one-third of 1 per cent of gross domestic product, are well below Australia’s.
“Moreover, the PC’s measure of net abatement takes no account of subsidies to emissions. Recent estimates place subsidies to fossil fuel use in China at about 1.4 per cent of GDP. For each dollar spent curbing emissions, China therefore spends $4 promoting them.”
But who said green zealots were capable of common sense or having an awareness of basic economics? Not only is their thinking a bit weak and their moralising a bit much, but so too is the continual hypocrisy we keep finding among them.
Consider U2 – again. I have already penned a number of pieces on this super group which is noted for its environmental crusades – all the while living a lifestyle that hardly fits with green activism. Now it seems they are at it again. One news report tells the story this way:
“They are the rockers with a conscience. U2 has travelled the world preaching the green message, but now guitarist ‘The Edge’ has been criticised for planning to develop an ‘environmentally devastating’ home. Despite promises by The Edge that it would be one of the greenest developments in the world, California’s coastal development agency rejected a proposal for five mansions overlooking Malibu citing concerns that it would irrevocably damage the environment.
“Staff told the California Coastal Commission that approving such a project would set a precedent and invite other large developments to rugged, environmentally sensitive locations. Commissioners voted 8-to-4 against the proposal. ‘In my 38 years I have never seen a project as environmentally devastating as this one,’ said Peter Douglas, executive director for the commission. ‘An environmentally sensitive person would never pick this site to develop’.”
OK, so he is preaching one thing and living another. We have come to expect this from the new green evangelists. They are especially intent on making all of us pay for their vision of this new green utopia. But they are not all that keen themselves to pay the price for this heaven on earth.
What Chesterton said about the secularists could be equally said about the greens: “The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale heaven; but they laid waste the world.”
Thus it is with all earthly coercive utopians. They promise much, deliver little, and cause great harm in the process.