Our ‘Net Zero’ Choice: Back To The Stone-Age Or Embrace Capitalism?

Back in the 1970s, experts scared us as we grew up with warnings about nuclear war, global famine due to over-population and, I kid you not, an imminent new ice age.

These days, the experts are scaring the kids about the threat posed by a different kind of climate change, warning of a dire future in a world that is slowly being made uninhabitable thanks to our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

CCC Report Cover

Today sees the publication of a new report calling for a measured migration to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Courtesy: CCC

And the kids are taking notice. Last week we saw 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, daughter of singer and climate activist Malena Ernman, lecturing British politicians on the need for action on climate change.

Schools’ climate strikes

Thunberg (with a little help from her mother’s book publicist) promoted the idea of striking from school to protest about climate change. School children in Britain, aided and abetted by activist teachers, have followed her lead by skipping classes to demonstrate for ‘climate action’. This hit the headlines in the UK on 15 February 2019 with a nationwide schools’ climate strike involving thousands of children walking out of lessons on the Friday just before half-term started – when many of them would have flown off on school skiing trips or on overseas holidays with their parents…

And last month, we saw the emergence of direct action with thousands of mostly middle-class eco-warriors – young and old – using their Easter holidays to take to the streets for the Extinction Rebellion protests, causing central London to grind to a halt. They were cheered on by their friends at The Guardian, the wider media and leftish politicians. Extinction Rebellion are demanding that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2025.

Think about that for a moment. The last time humanity had ‘net zero’ emissions was back in the stone-age when we were hunter gatherers, back before farming and the discovery of fire, when the human population was a lot smaller. Reducing carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2025 would pretty much mean the end to modern civilisation, with huge reductions in electricity generation, transport and agriculture. It would mean an end to the modern technological society and all that goes with it; so, no more mobile phones, no more The Guardian and no more internet to host the Extinction Rebellion website…

It would leave us with an economy incapable of supporting our current human population. In short, going for ‘net zero’ emissions by 2025 is a sure-fire way of bringing about the rapid extinction of modern human civilisation. Presumably, the more socially minded of the Extinction Rebellion protestors would be first in the line for the cull when the food runs out…

Giving up school for an afternoon or spending your holiday super-glued to a train is one thing. What happens when you are asked to give up your whole way of life?

Today, the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change produces a report calling for Britain to move towards ‘net zero’ carbon emissions in a more measured way and over a longer period to help prevent catastrophic climate change, by using new technologies. Of course, the Extinction Rebellion crew will rubbish the report. The Labour Party will call it too little, too late, and demand that the Government declares a climate emergency – whatever that means. But this kind of reaction from politicians on the left highlights a key part of the problem.

The trouble is that the Left sees capitalism as part of the problem

The trouble is that the environmental movement – and Extinction Rebellion, in particular – has been hi-jacked by the political left who see an opportunity to link their hatred of capitalism with climate change. As they see it, climate change is – almost literally – being fuelled by global capitalism. End capitalism, they argue, and you end climate change – simples!

But it is capitalism that has made possible the very process that will develop and invest in the technologies that can deliver ‘net zero’ emissions over time while maintaining our high technology civilisation. Just as it is capitalism that made possible the huge developments in agricultural technology that have enabled us to feed the planet – and prove wrong the population scare-mongers of the 1970s.

We should embrace capitalism and invest in developing technological solutions to the problem of greenhouse emissions – not bin it and go back to the stone-age. We should teach our kids to see capitalism as the solution rather than encouraging them to protest against it.

It is time to stop scaring the kids and trust in technology – and capitalism!

 

 

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References

See today’s UK Committee on Climate Change report here and read about it here.

Read more about Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb on Wikipedia here.

Global cooling… Back in 1975 Newsweek reported on “ominous signs” of global cooling and the potential dangers posed by a new ice age. “Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change,” wrote Newsweek reporter Peter Gwynne. “The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope worth climactic change once the results become a grim reality”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. See the 1975 Newsweek feature on a future ice age here.

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