This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
It’s springtime. Here’s hoping that our eyes are opening along with the blossoms.
In the part of the world in which I live, Easter is associated with springtime. Green shoots emerging from the ground. Bulbs, vines, and trees awakening from dormancy. This is a moment of renewal, of hope, an opportunity to set off in a new direction.
This Easter weekend I see promising signs that we may be on our way to becoming more sophisticated in how we think about environmental issues. Below, therefore, is a bouquet of reasons from the UK to feel hopeful:
Over at Spiked, Rob Lyons has a lengthy and informative review of a book titled The Age of Global Warming: A History. Recently released in the UK, it isn’t yet available in North America, but its focus on the history of the ideas that inform today’s green movement suggests it will make an important contribution to our understanding.
Lyons’ review (read the whole thing here) emphasizes how firmly the green movement is now associated with affluent elites. In his words:
Western politicians and royalty, the management of giant corporations like BP and the offspring of the rich and powerful, like Zac Goldsmith and Robert F Kennedy Jr, have declared the importance of tackling climate change again and again.
That many of those people lack a fundamental awareness of – or sympathy for – the concerns of ordinary folk struggling to make ends meet is glaringly obvious if one examines how the climate policies they’ve promoted are playing out in the real world.
Fraser Nelson does a brilliant job of illustrating this in a column titled It’s the cold, not global warming, that we should be worried about.
All that precious time and money being blown on preparing for a speculative hot future entirely ignores the fact that tens of thousands of people are dying prematurely from the cold in the UK here and now. How can it possibly be the case that today’s tragedies are of less concern than hypothetical deaths sometime in the future? As Nelson says:
The reaction to the 2003 heatwave was extraordinary. It was blamed for 2,000 deaths, and taken as a warning that Britain was horribly unprepared for the coming era of snowless winters and barbecue summers. The government’s chief scientific officer, Sir David King, later declared that climate change was “more serious even than the threat of terrorism” in terms of the number of lives that could be lost. Such language is never used about the cold, which kills at least 10 times as many people every winter.
Since Sir David’s exhortations, some 250,000 Brits have died from the cold, and 10,000 from the heat. It is horribly clear that we have been focusing on the wrong enemy. Instead of making sure energy was affordable, ministers have been trying to make it more expensive, with carbon price floors and emissions trading schemes. Fuel prices have doubled over seven years, forcing millions to choose between heat and food… [bold added, backed up here]
We may wonder what spell has been cast over our communities that we’ve failed to notice the obvious. But instead, let us celebrate the fact that words like this are finally being spoken:
This is the supposed threat facing us: children would be less likely to have snow to play in at Christmas, but more likely to have grandparents to visit over Easter. Not a bad trade-off.
Read Nelson’s entire tour de force here.
Andrew Orlowski over at the Register also has an eye-opening piece titled The UK Energy Crisis in 3 simple awareness-raising pictures. Its first paragraph includes the following:
The UK is running out of gas. Very rapidly indeed. So much so, that shortly after Easter cuts and rationing may be introduced, with industrial users and hospitals getting preferential treatment.
Green policies almost always sound wonderful. But they frequently result in dire, unintended consequences. That’s a hard lesson to learn – and an expensive one.
Perhaps our long, dark winter is coming to end and sufficient numbers of eyes are beginning to open.