Environmentalism According to Lucas

by | Jun 14, 2008

Over the last year, we have looked at some of the words and ideas coming from the environmental movement through the Green Party’s MEP for SE England, Caroline Lucas. With her breathless, urgent catastrophism, Lucas epitomises Environmentalism and its hollow vision, shallow intellect, and deep misanthropy. In these respects, Lucas never disappoints us.

However, we are never very successful at getting Lucas or her press office to account for anything she has said. Luckily, she was on BBC TV’s Question Time last week, and has been appearing at a number of public events of late. So here is another opportunity to subject Lucas’s political ideas to some scrutiny.

The Question Time panel were asked if the Labour Party were suffering from a leadership crisis, to which Caroline Lucas replied that Labour’s problem is that it lacks values, that it no longer knows what it stands for, that it has abandoned its traditional values such as equality, and that Gordon Brown is a man who doesn’t know what he wants.

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We agree with Lucas that the Labour Party is in crisis because it doesn’t know what it stands for. As we say in our first ever post, “Environmental concerns are serving to provide direction for directionless politics”. That is why Blair and Brown were keen to be seen to be acting on climate change, and that is why, in response to that action, the Tories committed themselves to a policy of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, against Labour’s 60%. And that is why, not to be out-done, the Liberal Democrats upped their bidding to a 100% reduction by 2050. But are Lucas and the Green Party offering anything so different?

As we have also pointed out, Environmentalism thrives in this atmosphere of political vapidity, not because it represents an alternative, but because it captures the nervousness caused by a lack of political direction. Environmentalism nurtures a general sense of doom with ideas about societal and ecological collapse. Without that sense of doom, environmentalism would be nothing.

As political movements across the political spectrum have increasingly found it difficult to generate ideas through which to connect to the public, so they have had to turn to other ways to achieve their legitimacy and authority. As Lucas points out, the Labour Party is suffering from a ‘crisis of direction’. But Lucas and the Greens have not found a direction by locating a new political vision to steer towards, but a nightmare to claim to be steering away from. Lucas attacks Brown for having no values, yet her arguments for social and economic change are not formed out of her principled objections to the way in which people relate to one another through social and economic structures. Instead, Lucas’s philosophy depends on a conception of humanity’s relationship with nature. She is, in terms of values, as poverty-stricken as any of those she attacks. Lucas doesn’t have some great store of values, with which she can create a positive view of how the world could be. Here is Lucas, speaking at a recent debate held by the World Development Movement, setting out her case for carbon rationing, trading and ‘equality’ and selling her argument for ‘equality’ in such (pseudo) scientific terms.

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Notice that, in that speech, Lucas is using the word ‘resources’, not in the sense of stuff that we have, but in terms of the biosphere’s ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

It seems that, in order to make a case for equality, Lucas needs there to be a finite world, as if, were there no such limits (to the absorption of CO2 by natural processes), there would be no case for equality. This prevents her from conceiving of a world in which equality is achieved, not by rationing and people having less, but by people having more, and having their expectations raised. Lucas doesn’t have ‘values’, and hides the fact behind science. ‘Science’ is being used in place of values. ‘Science’ is Environmentalism’s fig leaf. It is being used to create the idea of limits, so that Environmentalism doesn’t have to commit itself to providing anything more than less and less. And just as science is used instead of values, doom is a stand in for political vision. If we don’t do as ‘science’ (environmentalism) says, then catastrophe awaits. Here, for example, Lucas tells us that unless we put up with high fuel prices and tax, we wont adjust our behaviour, and society will collapse.

[youtube mBTE4w3qIaw]

It is an ‘interesting’ argument that says we need to artificially keep oil prices high because… err… the days of cheap oil are over because… err… of peak oil. For someone who lectures us about ‘science’, the logic of the causal world seems to have escaped Lucas’s understanding. Scarcity would do Lucas’s work for her. Obviously, what is at issue is not rescuing humanity from a looming catastrophe, but the legitimacy of a political movement bent on creating a behavioural and cultural change for its own benefit, on the premise that only it can save us from the terrible chaos that awaits us.

[youtube XsCfzjqeTPE]

As much as Lucas tries to make her ideas sound positive, they are underscored and sold by a vision of catastrophe. She may talk of progressive ideas such as ‘equality’, ‘justice’, and ‘liberty’, but all of these ideas are mediated by, and through the environment. Our freedom is limited, not guaranteed by the environment. Equality is measured in environmental, pseudo-scientific terms of resource distribution. Social justice, according to Lucas, is equivalent to ‘environmental justice’. But what a pale imitation of justice that is; it doesn’t right any wrongs, or create the possibility of a better standard of living. And where Lucas promises that there will be less unemployment under a Green Government, it is because a ‘zero carbon economy’ is far more labour-intensive than its fully-powered counterpart. In such an economy, the job that oil did will be done by people. Fancy a job as a serf? How about a career as a treadmill operative? This will be the ‘equality’ and the ‘social justice’ that Lucas has designed for us.

The use of science to limit political possibilities, and lower our horizons by constructing plausible catastrophic scenarios is the everyday language of environmentalism. But, surprisingly, the failure of this unremittingly negative view of the world hasn’t escaped Lucas’ attention.

[youtube -JfDb4K4GUU]

What? Caroline Lucas is against climate alarmism? The same Caroline Lucas who, in July last year, compared climate scepticism to holocaust denial? The same Caroline Lucas who said in July last year that,

… if you look at the implications of climate change, of runaway climate change, we are literally talking about millions and millions of people dying, we are literally talking about famines, and flooding, and migration and disease on an unprecedented scale. And so yes, I know these are sensitive words that I’ve used, but I feel so strongly that we urgently need to wake people up and stop this march towards catastrophe that I very much feel that we’re on.

Is the Caroline Lucas who is now against catastrophism the same Caroline Lucas who said in November,

… when you hear scientists say that we have about eight years left in order to really tackle climate change, I don’t think what the public actually want is cautiousness, what they want is real leadership, and that is what
the EU is promising to give, and yet that’s what we’re failing to do here.

Is it the same Caroline Lucas who said in February,

Around 75 per cent of all cancers are caused by environmental factors, mainly chemicals…

Is the Caroline Lucas who doesn’t believe that alarmism works, the same Caroline Lucas in this video?

[youtube Higin1kY3PM]

Lucas appears to be very confused about what she is selling, and how she is selling it. She claims that we must change the way we live, to expect less, and to make do and mend, but that, somehow, this will make us all happier. She claims that she doesn’t depend on catastrophic visions to connect with the public, yet without it, there is no imperative to give her ideas a second thought. She claims to be part of a democratic movement, yet demands that the state regulate our behaviour. She claims to speak on behalf of the poor, yet would deprive the poor of the material means to change their lives; cheap goods, fuel, and mobility. She claims to have science on her side, yet she campaigns against the benefits of science; she is against animal research, and against evidence based medicine, favouring instead ‘alternative’ therapies; she campaigns against the use of agricultural and industrial chemicals; and she campaigns against anything which might have the charge of ‘unsustainable’ thrown at it. She claims to be against the coercive influence of big business, but in its place, she would put an authoritarian government that would regulate your freedom to travel, to buy things, and coerce you into observing an ‘environmentally friendly’ lifestyle.

A loss of values in politics is a bad thing. But the Green Party is far far worse. Give us disorientation over deeply confused misanthropy, any day.


  1. talisker

    When will this poor, muddled woman realize that the key to universal happiness and the answer to all the world’s problems is really quite simple: Ferraris for all!

    As Frank Furedi and his fellow ideologists at Spiked have explained so often, any alternative vision is plainly motivated by misanthropic authoritarianism.

    Only through unrestricted capitalist growth can we hope to create the conditions for a real revolution, as prophesied (scientifically, of course) by Marx himself. And then it will be led not by pathetic crypto-Nazi tree-huggers, but by a fearless vanguard of neo-Trotskyites, their iron wills forged in the merciless struggle to extirpate bourgeois sentimentalism, environmental false consciousness, backward-looking kulakism etc.

    Then finally the world can be made to understand that there is no limit to the relentless onward march of material wealth, once the ‘environment’ and its self-confessed protectors have been finally subjugated!

  2. Anonymous

    Have I got this straight? You don’t mind if the poor (and everyone else) suffers because we run out of oil, can’t produce enough food, and overheat slowly as long as its due to “natural” causes, but you don’t like a politician warning that these things might happen and that maybe we should do something to prevent them.

    Let’s party while the ship goes down! Or maybe you think that there’s no problem, or that the market will sort everything out eventually – of course it will, but at what cost? The Western world will still be able to buy its oil and food and possibly adapt its economy, but that’s a bit narrow minded isn’t it?

    So shall we pump the oil out ever faster to bring the price down, keep demand high and race towards the finish – after all those stupid scientists might be wrong about climate change, and those clever scientists will get us some new sources of energy and raw materials ….. sounds a bit like an inverted form of Pascal’s wager!


  3. Editors


    No you have not got it straight. At all. We mind very much that the poor suffer, that’s why we’re very much against Lucas’s ideas. We don’t believe that she offers anyone anything. We believe that environmentalism will lock the poor further into poverty.

    We don’t accept the premises that ‘overheating’ or ‘running out of oil’ are imminent and insurmountable problems for the poor. But they certainly would be in a Greener world. Food shortages do appear to be a current problem, but not for environmental reasons anything like as much as economic and political. Two of the factors in that shortage are the taking land out of agricultural use (a Green policy) and the use of bio fuels – as lobbied for by groups such as Friends of the Earth, who got the UK Government to commit to the idea, and pass legislation requiring fuel distributors to deliver a certain percentage bio fuel alongside their conventional diesel. Environmentalism is a self-fulfilling prophecy; it makes people more vulnerable to the environment by increasing their dependency on it, and reducing their ability to withstand its pressures.

    Do we think that there are no problems, and that the market will sort any new problems out? No, and not as a matter of principle. But the Green Party’s approach to problems is to submit to them, not to develop ways of overcoming them. That means if there’s a choice between an ‘unsustainable’ technology making your life better for the foreseeable future on the one hand, or a law locking you into a lifestyle equivalent to that of a serf on the other, environmentalism would rather foist the peasant lifestyle on you through the latter, and damn your greedy, selfish, opinion about that. As Lucas says, we need Government to enforce behavioural and cultural change.

    It is not the case that Lucas merely argues that these catastrophic things might happen, and that she wishes us to be prepared for them. Instead, she needs them to happen; otherwise she has no political legitimacy. Her entire case is predicated on an imminent disaster, not positive political vision.

    On the peak oil argument. Apart from the logical inconsistency already outlined in the post, crude is just one of many forms of fossil fuels. Even were there no crude left, there are alternatives in much greater abundance, which are economically viable, and exploitable at today’s price of oil, and will become cheaper; gas hydrates, heavy oil, shale oil, and coal. Lucas’s peak oil argument is just absurd alarmism. (And what’s more, the scarcity story contributes to high oil prices.) It’s a story that is designed to terrify. Whether she believes it or not is not really our concern. The problem is that she has currency with her equally directionless political counterparts in the mainstream parties, who also aim to turn nervousness into political momentum.

    We do not object, on principle, to ‘renewable’ forms of energy. There are some interesting developments for large scale solar projects, algae, and Japan’s deep geothermal, and space-solar exploration, are very interesting, for example. Having few domestic energy resources, Japan are naturally likely to be innovators in energy production. But look at this positive approach, rather than emphasising ‘natural’ limits, the principle is to look for ways to achieve more. The point here is that environmentalism would rather we embrace restraint, and reorganise society around the principle, than commit itself to working out how to create more. Environmentalism makes an ethic out of less and less, when, as is clear from history, social good has been achieved through producing more. Not only does ‘more’ allow for better living conditions, the end of manual labour and the end of dependence on natural processes creates the possibility of political freedoms. Environmentalism romanticises the lifestyles of pre-capitalist society, and forgets that these material conditions maintained the social order by kept the poor in back-breaking toil. Don’t expect to have a fluffy, progressive, liberal eco-centric Government. Those are not its objectives.

  4. talisker

    “The end of dependence on natural processes” – a phrase that takes us back to the heady days of ‘Marxist science”, Trofim Lysenko, Mao’s “great leap forward” etc.

    Of course, we all know how well such attempts to demonstrate man’s infinite mastery of nature turned out in practice.

  5. Editors

    What Talisker forgets about Lysenko and Mao is that their ideas were problematic because they were executed by an authoritarian, totalitarian state, not because they were bad science.

    As Fred points out in a comment on an earlier post on micro generation, Green policies bear a much closer resemblance to the Maoist regime.

    [Micro generation] Reminds me of Mao’s catastrophic attempt to increase steel output in China by having millions of mini-smelters in backyards all across the country.

    Greens such as Lucas and Talisker, suffer from some contemporary form of Nature worship, where they imagine that proximity to it guarantees some kind of safe and happy life.

    But the truth is that life in proximity to and dependence on nature is back-breaking, short, and painful. Nature is high infant mortality, lower food security, disease, shorter life expectancy, and all forms of injustice.

  6. talisker

    Lysenko’s ideas certainly were extremely bad science in every sense. Of course, Stalin’s willingness to consign anyone who disagreed with them to the Gulag didn’t help matters.

    Perhaps you imagine that things would have turned out better if, say, Trotsky had been running the show? If so, consider the following extract from a speech he made in 1925, when he was chairman of the Soviet technical and scientific board of industry – thus effectively head of all scientific institutions in the Soviet Union:

    “Marxism examines the class structure of society as a historically conditioned form of the development of the productive forces; Marxism deduces from the productive forces of society the inter-relations between human society and surrounding nature, and these, in turn are determined at each historical stage by man’s technology, his instruments and weapons, his capacities and methods for struggle with nature. Precisely this objective approach arms Marxism with the insuperable power of historical foresight.”

    Is it this same insuperable power that allows you to assert with such confidence that everything will turn out just fine if we ignore the warnings of so many well-qualified scientists and go on burning fossil fuels as if the consequences were negligible?

    Lysenko was only taken seriously at all (not just by Stalin but also by some eminent Western scientists who should have known better) because his utopian view of the perfectibility of nature gelled with Marxist ideology – an ideology that elevates a pseudo-scientific theory of society to the status of prophetic religious faith.

    Far from worshipping nature, as you allege, Caroline Lucas would appear to have a much firmer grasp of the realities – and potential dangers – of mankind’s interaction with the natural world than you do yourselves.

  7. Editors

    We are flattered that Talisker appears to be taking a moment away from his bottle, seemingly to engage in conversation, rather than snipe angrily from behind his anonymity. We wonder how long that will last.

    On his point in general. Again, it was authoritarianism which allowed Lysenko’s bad science to become problematic. If you look around our blog – as Talisker must do, becaquse he is one of our more prolific commenters – you would notice our commitment to anti-authoritarianism. So when he asks us if we would be happier had things been different, and ‘perfectly-gelled’ scientific theory and Marxist ideology would, in our view, legitimise some equivalent form of authoritarianism, then, whatever the truth of Trotsky’s statement, the answer must be no.

    Talisker is far keener to put us into an ideological category at which he can point, than he is keen on answering any of our criticisms of environmental ideology.

    He asks us,

    “Is it this same insuperable power that allows you to assert with such confidence that everything will turn out just fine if we ignore the warnings of so many well-qualified scientists and go on burning fossil fuels as if the consequences were negligible?”

    Where do we say that ‘everything will turn out just fine’, and where does Talisker get the idea that so many well-qualified scientists constitute an unassailable (or should that be ‘insuperable’?) position?

    Is Talisker so drunk that he doesn’t realise the irony of his argument in defence of Lucas’s authoritarianism, on the basis of an ‘insuperable’ gelling of political ideology and science, whilst accusing us of exactly the same thing?

    Talisker, put the bottle down, and the Trotsky back on the shelf. Brew yourself a coffee. Sober up. We welcome criticism, debate, and discussion. But it should at least be challenging if it is to be productive.

  8. Anonymous

    Traditionally I have been broadly or even very (at times) ‘green’ for want of a better word but am also (I hope) open minded so I have been reading this site for sometime and am at least interested in the ideas expressed here – since it addresses my own concerns about paradoxes within the green movement or various movements – I have always seen large parts of the enviromentalism don’t really make sense, are practically unworkable or are highly questionable – ie industrialisng / covering what you are supposed to be protecting in unproductive windmills rather then having a few nuclear power stations dotted about (actually are as pretty as and fit into the landscape as well as wind turbines – although I must admit the whizzy bit on top is fun)

    I was actually at the point of making a comment but your post here (3rd comment)is actually the clearest and most positive thing on the site and actually provides some of the answers I was seeking or at least more to mull over

    you have said here (roughly not a direct quote) one should develope an alternative ideology or philipsophy that simply ignores environmentalism rather then counter it – may I ask a few question/s to help me understand better your view –

    I take it yours isn’t simply the philosophical point that we may not have any moral compulsion to look after other species welfare then our own? I am just wondering do you see a role for conservation in any form – even as some form of resource managment – clearly a prohuman agenda is not well served if somethng we were doing was having a very bad effect

    I am sorry if this isn’t very comprehensively put but I am not spending time on an essay – it is easier to take apart enviromentalism then to provide answers I know but perhaps you could offer me your thoughts if I have made my point reasonably

    Do you have for example thoughts on tranhumanism for example? – many here believe we have ecological problems (Of whatever scale, importance or description) but suggest that such green-horrors such as GM well used offer more hope for positive interaction with the world – I would like to think as we evovle we do look after everything in our world better if possible, this at least offers a more positive vision and I would say is simply more likely given the nature of man – since we are curious and creative and however good it sounds to some I can’t see many going for what amounts to dissassembly

  9. talisker

    Editors –

    Judging from the slurred logic (and syntax) of your reply to my last post, I’d say any irony lands with a rather heavy thud in your own court.

    Still, I’ll try to make some sense of the questions you ask.

    1) “Where do we say that ‘everything will turn out just fine’?”

    Well, a few paras above (in your reply to Donald) you suggest that the choice is “between an ‘unsustainable’ technology making your life better for the foreseeable future on the one hand, or a law locking you into a lifestyle equivalent to that of a serf on the other”. I’d say “everything turning out just fine” is a fair gloss on the notion of life becoming “better for the foreseeable future”.

    2) “Where does Talisker get the idea that so many well-qualified scientists constitute an unassailable (or should that be ‘insuperable’?) position?”

    I haven’t suggested any such thing. I’m well aware that scientific knowledge grows precisely through hypotheses being subjected to scrutiny and new evidence. It’s one of the ways in which genuine science stands in stark contrast to the sort of Marxist pseudo-science favoured by Trotsky and his admirers.

    3) Is Talisker so drunk that he doesn’t realise the irony of his argument in defence of Lucas’s authoritarianism, on the basis of an ‘insuperable’ gelling of political ideology and science, whilst accusing us of exactly the same thing?

    Your meaning here is by no means clear, but again you seem to be trying to attribute arguments to me that I haven’t made. Suffice it to say that I feel no need to defend Lucas’s “authoritarianism” as I’m not an authoritarian myself and I don’t believe her to be either. She’s a thoroughly democratic politician representing a peculiarly (and some would say rather shambolically) non-hierarchical party. Unlike Trotsky, Frank Furedi et al she’s never advocated any kind of dictatorship, of the proletariat or anyone else. Your only grounds for alleging that she’s an authoritarian seem to be that she articulates a social and economic vision that you find unappealing.

    On the subject of anonymity: this is a widely accepted convention of the blogosphere – though I can see how irritating it must be must be for those obliged to resort to ad hominem rhetoric.

  10. Editors

    1. Talisker believes that our criticism of Lucas’s demands for ‘sustainability’, for their inevitable effects on people’s lives, are a statement of a belief that ‘everything will be just fine’.

    Nowhere on the site do we argue that we face no problems from climate, either changing or not, and anthropogenic or not. What we do argue, is that the political direction and urgency sought by environmentalists are not warranted by the science, that there are plenty of options available to us in response to a changing – or not so changing – climate, and that the presentation of just one response is itself damaging and dangerous.

    2. We are glad that Talisker has recognised that the scientific knowledge presented by environmentalists as a complete vindication of their political ambitions is neither, and that there remains a great many challenges to both. But we are puzzled that he/she appears to be claiming to be committed to standing against politically-motivated pseudo-science of one form, yet seemingly objects to our blog, which intends to challenge the way in which pseudo-scientific arguments are used to advance political environmentalism.

    3. Talisker complains that we attribute to him statements that he hasn’t made. No wonder he failed to grasp the irony hinted at in the statement he was replying to. And no wonder he doesn’t recognise Lucas – who intends to use the power of Government to coerce behavioural and cultural change, a “behavioural and cultural revolution”, no less – as authoritarian. That authoritarianism, which is given the justification of a ‘scientific argument’ by Lucas, has been missed by Talisker. It seems especially obvious that Talisker has very much failed to give Lucas’s ideas a critical reading.
    In the same paragraph he claims to ‘feel no need to defend Lucas’ against our criticisms, that ‘she’s a thoroughly democratic politician’, ‘unlike Trotsky’. But she’s not so ‘democratic’ that she would happily trust people to make behavioural and cultural changes without her intervention, and without punishing them through prices and tax, and the use of the law. She doesn’t trust people to make decisions, nor can she sell her political vision without terrifying people into believing that they are likely to contract cancer, that society is about to collapse, and that the world is about to become an inhospitable inferno.

    If it is the case that
    being against limiting or reducing the freedom to travel, wanting people to be increasingly free from manual labour, being in favour of allowing people to determine their own level of consumption, and believing that it is right for people to expect material improvements in their lives and to have the means to pursue that ambition are positions that can only be held by being ‘Trotskyite’, then we shall sing about Trotsky from the rooftops.

    However, the only mention of Trotsky, and the use of his ideas, on this blog, have come from Talisker himself. If Talisker is really that worried about our crypto-Troskyism, he should be a bit clearer about demonstrating continuity between Trotsky, and what he’s read on the blog. Simply banging on about us being Trotsky fans neither makes it so, nor helps anyone to understand what the substance of his objections to us, or Trotsky, actually are.

  11. talisker

    Would you say that the various Clean Air Acts that have reduced urban air pollution in the US and UK are “authoritarian”? Or legislation to control the use of dioxins, asbestos, CFCs, lead in petrol, etc? Or speed limits in residential areas?

    All such laws place limitations on individuals’ and/or corporations’ rights to behave as they want All have introduced by democratically elected governments – often in the face of fierce corporate lobbying, claims that the scientific evidence was not strong enough to justify such restrictions, that environmentalists were fearmongering and so on.

    Why do I mention Trotsky and Frank Furedi in my posts? Because you appear to be so closely associated with the tightly-knit group of former Revolutionary Communist Party activists whose guiding light was – and I believe still is – Trostskyite Marxism as interpreted by the RCP’s chairman, Furedi. The latter’s pronouncements on the “misanthropic” nature of environmentalism, the “directionless” nature of contemporary politics etc., still set the agenda promoted via the platforms controlled by this group, such as Spiked and the Institute of Ideas, in both of which you play an active role. And they also seem to inform much of your writing on this blog.

    For an interesting perspective on Trotsky’s faith in mankind’s infinite capacity to exploit nature, see for example ‘The Prophet Misarmed: Trotsky, Ecology and Sustainability’ by Sandy Irvine, which you’ll find at http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Latest/Misarmed.html. This belief in the natural world as a limitlessly exploitable cornucopia seems to me remarkably similar to the position taken by Furedi and the former RCP members behind Spiked – and indeed by yourselves. In the light of current scientific knowledge, it seems to me to be an even more blind faith than it was in Trotsky’s day.

  12. Editors

    On your first point, about the various clean air acts. You are not comparing like with like. The consequences of smoke in cities, especially in London, was a far more defined set of problems than climate change. It was easier to relate smoke to deaths than it is to relate CO2 to the consequences that environmentalists claim we are likely to experience. There has not been a single death which can be attributed to climate change. The clean air acts prohibited certain types of emission, but environmentalists claim that our economic system and culture are at odds with nature itself. Accordingly, environmentalism, through ‘science’, makes nature the mechanism through which humans, and groups of humans relate, socially, politically and economically. It is more than a straightforward case of causes and effects; environmentalism is a political ideology and a moral framework. It is not merely a scaled-up response to a similar problem, and it exists within an entirely different context.

    Another difference is that it is unlikely that the public were as ambivalent towards the clean air act as they are towards contemporary environmentalism (as we have argued repeatedly on this site), which makes the politics touted by Lucas et al a particularly nasty sort of authoritarianism.

    What the clean air act example also demonstrates is that you don’t need environmentalism to improve the environment, nor to protect people from environmental problems.

    On your comments about the Institute of Ideas, Spiked, and their antecedents. The first thing to point out is that it is hardly a secret that we have written for them. We post links to the handful of articles we have written, and Spiked and the IOI link back here. So your apparent desire to expose some nefarious, covert connection is a little bit pointless. It’s hard to see how our involvement can be seen as ‘an active role’, or even a ‘close association’. We live 250 and 400 miles away from London, and we make it to their events – none of which we have had any hand in the organisation of – only 2 or 3 times a year. Neither do we recognise your characterisation of the groups. Far from being united by a religious attachment to an ideology, let alone a commitment to Trotsky – who we’ve never heard or seen mentioned – they frequently feature commentators from across the political spectrum in both debate and publications. There are frequently differences of opinion and perspective that can only be confused for the expression of a ‘tightly-knit group’ acting under the supervision of one person and his ideas by a woeful failure to pay any attention to any of the ideas actually being put forward, by either Furedi himself, or any of his ‘disciples’, or anyone speaking at the events.

    Your anti-Trotskyite campaign against Furedi, or whatever group you feel to be influenced by them, is best taken up with him and them. Unfortunately, we are not as well read on either Trotsky or Furedi as you seem to be, and so the only reply to your criticism that we are influenced by either is to ask you, again, to be much clearer about what you believe to be the substance of the connection, and the problem you have with it.

    Anyway, is it the case that you have no influences? Have you never read anything you found convincing? Or did you wake up at breakfast with the thought ‘cogito ergo sum’, and went to bed with a complete account of human history, science, and politics? Wouldn’t you enjoy meeting and discussing ideas with people of a similar perspective to you, and wouldn’t it be a productive exercise? And if so, would we be right to criticise environmentalism as being the product of some sort of conspiratorial cabal? Of course we wouldn’t. And we don’t.

    Thanks for flagging up the article about Trotsky and ecology – it looks very interesting. But you might as well accuse us of being disciples of Julian Simon, who held similar views to Trotsky about the capacity for nature to provide for an ever growing human population, and yet was at the opposite end of the political spectrum.

    Environmentalists, on the other hand claim that ‘the science is in’, and that there is no alternative, so we must have reached the end of our abilities. Yes, it goes without saying that the Earth is a finite resource in that it is made from a finite amount of stuff. What is infinite is the use to which that stuff can be put – given human ingenuity. Feel free to disagree with that position, but you will need a political argument, not a scientific one.

    A similar abuse of the laws of physics is to be found in the arguments of creationists. Evolution cannot be true, they say, because it contradicts the law of entropy. Like them, environmentalists are resorting to the same tactic of hiding a political argument behind the authority of ‘science’. (Although of course, the creationists are hiding their own politics behind *bad* science.) So far, your argument boils down to the claim that the “current scientific knowledge” provides a comprehensive support of the environmentalist position. This is equivalent to the faith that you criticise Trotskyists for.

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