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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Climate Action, Statism, Democracy and Freedom

Jan 12, 2020

Grandiose green policies usually increase the power of the State while taking away our freedoms:

Last century C. S. Lewis made this important observation: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

As the state expands – even if supposedly for the good of the people – freedoms contract. As Milton Friedman once put it, “Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” And when various policies are undertaken by the state to deal with things like climate change, one must always be very cautious indeed. Mark Steyn was correct to put it this way, “The environment is the biggest pretext for big government ever devised.”

We have seen how so many Western states are reducing freedom and democracy as they take for themselves more and more power in the interests of saving the planet. Indeed, the more hubris a state has when it comes to thinking it can substantially change climate, and the more grandiose promises it makes to do so, the more restrictions on human freedom. This is always how it goes.

The more radical and all-encompassing green policies become, the more harm they can do to individual freedom, to the rule of law, to property rights, and to democracy. And we must not be naïve about how leftists and Marxists are using radical green policies to gain power for the state while taking away our freedoms. I can do no better here than to quote from Greenpeace cofounder Dr Patrick Moore on this:

The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.

And for those who want to take this further, plenty of books have been documenting all this over the years. Here are just five, of many:

Bast, Joseph, Peter Hill and Richard Rue, Eco-Sanity: A Commonsense Guide to Environmentalism. Madison Books, 1994.
Darwall, Rupert, Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex. Encounter Books, 2017, 2019.
Delingpole, James, The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism: The Left’s Plan to Frighten Your Kids, Drive Up Energy Costs, and Hike Your Taxes! Regnery, 2013.
Sussman, Brian, Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America. WND Books, 2012.
Moore, Patrick, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout. Beatty Street, 2010.

One need not agree with everything said in those books to get the message. And it is not just freedom in the abstract that is under threat here – individuals bear the brunt of this. The truth is, as Green orthodoxy increases, the freedoms of the naysayers decrease.

As but one example, we have the classic case here in Australia of Dr. Peter Ridd, former professor of marine science at James Cook University, who was forced out of his job for daring to question the accepted green narrative. Thankfully after much time, expense and hassle, he was awarded $1.2m in compensation after winning an unfair dismissal case.

But we are all at risk of radical and grandiose statist “solutions” to environmental problems. Prince Michael of Liechtenstein recently made this warning: “Goodbye freedom, democracy and the rule of law”. He writes about climate activism in the European Parliament:

The climate discussion has degenerated into a populist tool to introduce socialist solutions and central bureaucratic planning. Many clearly state that the free market system should be abolished. Lessons from the atrocities and absurdities of the inhumane Soviet system, which collapsed only 30 years ago, are already lost. Citizens are becoming subjects. Individual rights, freedom of speech and opinion, and property rights are being sacrificed. Out of populism, irresponsibility and a lack of courage, parliaments (not only the one in Strasbourg) are betraying their duty to defend the freedom and legitimate interests of citizens – a mission that includes the introduction of real and effective measures to protect the environment. www.gisreportsonline.com/goodbye-freedom-democracy-and-the-rule-of-law,politics,3041.html

Economic costs are just one component of all this. Obviously, we all will pay much more in taxes to fund the grand schemes of green governments. Consider the “Green New Deal” being proposed by Democrats in America. The implementation of this over a period of ten years could range anywhere from 50 to 90 trillion dollars!

One costing of it reveals other massive economic downturns:

How much would just this “bare bones” version of the Green New Deal cost? By 2040, we can expect:
-A peak reduction of more than 1.4 million jobs
-More than $40,000 in lost income for a typical family of four
-An average 12-14 percent increase in household electricity costs
-An aggregate loss of over $3.9 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP)
www.heritage.org/environment/commentary/the-green-new-deal-would-cost-trillions-and-make-not-dimes-worth-difference

One recent article examines seven major ways in which radical green policies cost us dearly. Here is one of them:

5. The trillions of dollars of scarce global resources wasted on global warming hysteria, anti-fossil fuel fanaticism and green energy schemes, properly deployed, could have improved and saved many millions of lives. About two million children below the age of five die from contaminated water every year – about 70 million dead kids since the advent of global warming alarmism. Bjørn Lomborg estimates that a fraction of these squandered green energy funds could have put clean water and sanitation systems into every community in the world.

Waste of funds and loss of opportunity due to global warming alarmism and green energy nonsense have harmed people around the world. In North America, Europe and Australia, trillions of dollars have been wasted on grid-connected green energy schemes that have increased energy costs, increased winter mortality, and reduced the stability of electrical grids.

In the developing world, the installation of electrical energy grids has been stalled for decades due to false global warming alarmism. In the winter of 2017-2018, England and Wales experienced over 50,000 excess winter deaths (more deaths in the winter months than non-winter). That British per-capita excess winter death rate was three times the average excess winter death rate of the USA and Canada. Energy costs are much higher in Britain, due to radical green opposition in the UK to the fracking of gassy shales. wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/04/the-cost-to-society-of-radical-environmentalism/

Yes, by all means we should care for the environment. And there are many things individuals can do. But mega-plans by governments to save the earth are often more about control and the acquisition of power than about actually helping the planet.

What are needed are sensible, realistic and practical policies which do not cost the earth to save the earth. Plenty of environmentalists can be drawn upon here, such as Bjorn Lomborg. For example, see his 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, or his 2008 volume, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming.

But we must not be naive here. An increase in the power of the state – even if for ostensibly good things, and for our good – of necessity means the diminution of our freedoms. Yes, life is always a trade off, and cost-benefit analyses for things like the care of the environment are needed.

But radically undermining our freedoms for grandiose green policies which will likely do no good at all – or may in fact be counterproductive – is not the way forward. And allowing concerns about the environment to become a tool for radical leftists and Marxists helps no one.

To conclude, let me quote from a former Australian Greens MP who recently penned an article on his experiences. His opening and closing words are worth running with here:

When I ripped up my Greens membership in December last year I labelled the NSW Greens “rotten, corrupt and toxic”. What surprised me most in the days and weeks that followed is that no one from the Greens actually denied it…

I still believe that there is an important place for ecology in politics, and a need for that to be represented in NSW. Green politics should provide interesting solutions to many modern problems, but it can not if it is subsumed by old fashioned Marxism spitting out inane slogans and tired manifestos. www.crikey.com.au/2019/02/26/nsw-greens-buckingham/

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11 Responses to Climate Action, Statism, Democracy and Freedom

  • We know that oil can be found in parts of the world that have been deserts for millennia and we also know that oil is produced from forests.
    Could this be an indication that the Earth runs cycles that result in shifting forests and the raising and falling of continents – i.e Australia where the inner part of the continent was once under water (sea).
    It may well be that ‘climate change’ is actually climate shift?
    John Abbott

  • Thank you very much again, Bill. So incredibly important to highlight and call out what is really happening/the ominous agenda, for what it is – for the sake of the future freedom of us all!

  • I appreciate you continuing to probe these issues, Bill. For my part, I have been thinking about the irony of the ‘lock up and leave it’ policy, attributed to the Greens and associated legislation that provides for fines of $30k for anyone cutting firewood in a state forest. The reason recently given for that penalty, was because ‘some creatures live in hollow logs’, but how does that stack up with the accumulated fuel load that allowed massive fires to destroy fauna and habitat under that policy? I believe the Climate Change debate is focussed on an existential emergency by alarmists, who have at least a concern for the environment at base, but it is difficult to have a reasonable discussion. Those who dismiss reason are leaving themselves open to a more extreme position, with diminishing return on sense. If this trend continues, the cost of supporting their argument, electorally, will be the same as that faced by Labor for their Green alliance in the last election. I can’t see Labor staying the course, but perhaps, they have short memories, while the ‘quiet Australians’ spoken of by the PM appear to have common sense. Finally, I believe the argument is becoming open to world view and not just hard science. We all have to live together on this planet and if we could examine why we need to be environmentally concerned, we might discover the common ground that unites us and come us with sympathetic legislation that checks excess (and corruption). The prophet Daniel was said to have had the wisdom of his faith when discerning the king’s dream and Nebuchadnezzar eventually acknowledged the Lord, appointing Daniel to a position of influence.

  • Well written Bill, as always.
    A few dot points.
    1. Climate changes, as it always has
    2. Man cannot control it, only God can
    3. God gave man stewardship over the planet, being sinful, it hasn’t been well managed
    4. Man doesn’t learn from history; young people embrace socialism unaware of the harm done in recent history
    5. Christians can take care of the environment by not wasting resources.
    6. Nature is to be appreciated, as God’s good gift, not worshipped (the goddess Gaia)
    7. “Renewables” are making their promoters wealthy – manufactured overseas (likely in China) with exported Australian coal & steel, & imported back
    8. Unless located in areas of hurricanes, wind power is inefficient, & strong magnetic field cause health problems in nearby, & they are flight hazards to birds
    9. These greenies will be the first to complain when the freedoms are taken away, although they have asked for it
    10. Big government are likely to introduce an “NBN-type” of energy & climate compliance policy

  • Meanwhile here in Australia today:

    Miserable ghost Turnbull calls for AOC-style Australian Green New Deal

    https://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2020/01/miserable-ghost-turnbull-calls-for-aoc-style-australian-green-new-deal.html

  • Check out this deception from the Guardian where their subheading mentions the 8 million ha burnt but in the main heading refer to the 4.9 million as a record by restricting to NSW alone. This omits about 95% of the 1974/75 fire which burnt through central Australia. They even have a neat graph that makes it look like this last fire is unprecedented. What liars!

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/07/record-breaking-49m-hectares-of-land-burned-in-nsw-this-bushfire-season

  • I dare say the Royal Commission inquiry will find what the forest management experts have been saying for many decades now – we need a sustained, scientifically-managed, financially supported and ongoing hazard reduction burn programme.

    Also we know particulates (as in smoke) are a climate cooler as was demonstrated by the eruption of Krakatoa.

    Are these sorts of things going to be required to be administered by governments based on good, scientific measurement techniques? Of course but sending the nation broke, as the Labor and Greens policies will inevitably do, will only reduce our ability, as a nation, to cope with what needs to be done. Imagine the ongoing effect of having a reduced national credit rating (as we previously had under Labor) and then having to borrow vast sums of money at an exorbitant rate, on top of an already existing debt, to cope with national disasters. Try to imagine how long we could do even that slipshod approach for. Imagine not being able to afford the running of the fleet of air tankers. Imagine not being able to support our firefighters with the best possible equipment. We know, from the time-after-time results of socialism, that this is the fate that will beset us if we go down that path. Australia not being in debt and actually having financial capability means we are in a massively better position to be able to cope than what we would otherwise be.

    The Green’s back-flip here only serves to demonstrate, yet again, that they don’t know what they are talking about. Imagine if we didn’t have the dams to supply the water or the electricity to pump the water or the massive plant and infrastructure needed. These are clear risks the way the nation is going.

    The demonstrators simply are not seeing things clearly and are simply acting as political pawns. Australia only produces perhaps a little over 1% of the estimated, total man-made carbon emissions and we do it in a hemisphere that only has about 10% of the world population and is surrounded by oceans which are the greatest carbon sink. Even if the entire nation was reduced to not producing any carbon dioxide whatsoever you simply would not be able to detect the effect on the climate.

  • Heard on BBC Radio this morning, a spokesman at the Met Office saying we must stabilise the climate. He must have a God complex.

  • So many watermelons! Truth in advertising would require a name change from greens/environmentalists to watermelons!

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