Environmentalism Spiked

Three excellent pieces from Spiked about the green movement…

First, Rob Lyons’ ‘The IPCC goes looking for bad news‘ is based on an interview with Aynsley Kellow, a contributor to recent IPCC reports.

‘even though Kellow has expressed public disagreement with the summary for policymakers, and the chapters that it flows from, he will still be listed as having taken part in the process – with the implication that he agrees with the final reports and is one of those thousands of experts who have apparently shown beyond all doubt that climate change will wreak havoc on the world.’

This highlights a major problem with the IPCC. It is regarded as a body that generates an unchallengeable consensus, which allows governments and activists to defer to its political and scientific arguments and to go unchallenged on matters of substance. What we lose is any sort of healthy debate. Rather than discussions about matters of political reality or scientific fact, all we get are (barely distinguishable) alternative interpretations of the scientific consensus on climate change. (Why don’t they just go the whole hog, and let the IPCC make all the policy?)

Second, Tessa Mayes explores what’s behind the recent Vanity Fair special on environmentalism featuring some celebs ‘doing their bit’, ie, assuming themselves to be in a position to lecture us on climate science and politics. Mayes echoes some points made by Lyons about the Eurocentricity of environmentalism, and asks an important question about the green movement…

‘But who does it help when big business is presented as the destroyer of nature and local Amazonians are depicted as the guardians of nature? Is that what Vanity Fair and other green campaigners really want for certain communities in Latin America? That they should live forever in harmony with nature, and their societies remain underdeveloped, natural, organic, hard work, at risk from the elements…?’

No doubt many greens would say ‘no’. But there don’t seem to be any green ideas in circulation that have distanced themselves successfully from Mayes’ characterisation. This is developed in Austin Williams’ account of how recent comments by Tony Juniper seem to acknowledge the conservative, backward-looking nature of environmentalism. Juniper’s attempts to reinvent it, however, suggest that the green movement is suffering from some form of identity crisis.

‘it is interesting that many environmentalists complain that they are constantly let down by how little practical attention we’re paying them.’

Willliams argues that these complaints are laughable, given the degree to which the political mainstream patently has absorbed environmentalism. He concludes that, in spite of all this angst and self-reflection by the green movement, its core values remain inescapably anti-human.

Did we say three excellent articles? Here’s a fourth.

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