I was talking to a charming young man last night, who was dressed in a bow tie at the dinner-dance. He was working for some sort of leftist-progressive think tank in the Harvard area. He explained his group’s opinions. It all seemed rather reasonable to a Canadian, like higher minimum wages, or easier rights for unions to organize. I nodded politely. (I do not agree, I merely think this is the stuff of political life). Thus encouraged, my young friend continued in the confident tones of one who knows where the world is going, that his group was seeking to generate a more carbon-neutral energy policy. I nodded sagely.
I keep wondering why young people of high intelligence can continue to believe this massive error, and of course I know the answer. Carbon dioxide emission is the equivalent of Marx’s labour theory of value. Let me explain. Key to the capitalist system, thought Marx, was exploitation of an evil kind. Since, according to Marx, labour input determines the value of anything, then if a capitalist sells a product for more than the costs of the labour and capital inputs, the profit was, by definition, “exploitation”, a form of evil.
By contrast, the market idea of value is that a thing is worth what a willing buyer will pay for it. And that price can vary enormously depending on the circumstances. In a town under siege, a pound of butter commands more than a diamond necklace, whereas in normal times a pound of butter competes against a large variety of delicious foodstuffs, and thus its price is kept reasonable – in the minds of a set of buyers.
The labour theory of value, which guaranteed that “capitalism” would always be “exploitative”, was the undergirding of the Marxist abhorrence of free markets. Move the camera forward a hundred years. Marxism is in tatters, its revolutions have been abandoned, and the apparatus of Marxist claptrap is finally seen for what it is.
Capitalism surges on unchecked, improving, destroying, transforming. Yet the impulse to control the outcomes continues, and will always be felt by confident young men in bow ties, and their spiritual successors. Capitalism is always trying to be out of control. And charming young men in bow ties are trying to tame it.
How to tame the beast? The one truly clever idea that the political Left has had in the past fifty years is that carbon dioxide, being the inevitable end product of combustion, along with water, is the perfect scapegoat. Leftism cannot beat capitalism in the race to improve people’s lives. That much has been learned. Nevertheless, the leftist impulse is eternal, because it is a spiritual disease, a sin if you will. If you can attach blame to all this improvement you see everywhere from Brazil to Bangladesh to Botswana, you may have discovered a powerful theory for restoring the power of a secular leftist elite. How so?
The claim of the political left is that capitalism is destroying the planet, not accidentally, but essentially. Not through the generation of polluting by-products, but in the basic processes of burning carbon fuels: oil, coal, natural gas. All this prosperity is fraught with the sin of producing CO2, which is warming the planet, which is leading to eco-catastrophe.
The arguments against this new secular leftist elite come down to:
- the earth is not actually warming, or
- if it is warming, we are not causing it.
The arguments for the new secular leftist elite always come down to the notion that every climate or weather event has an underlying cause, the production of CO2 in the process of increasing prosperity. Increased CO2 leads to more warmth which leads to wilder weather.
Behind all the arguments for this or that absurd measure to mitigate the production of carbon dioxide lies the essentially fraudulent assertion that capitalism is warming the planet, and we have to do something. So we sort or garbage into three bins, we reduce our carbon footprint (sin less), and try to live lives more pleasing to our new masters, including the charming young man in the bow tie.
For those of us who have followed the anthropogenic global warming fraud for ten years or more, the miracle is that the global warming zombie marches forward on the moving walkway provided by the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. In truth, the moving walkway is provided by the young men in bow ties, who confidently assert utter twaddle. Marxism had its day, but killed millions upon millions before the experiment was abandoned.
I fear the global warming policy zombie will also result in the deaths of millions, the immiseration of millions more, before it is stopped. I hope I am wrong.
Matt Ridley has a useful article on the climate alarmists, where he says, in part:
Anyway, by “unprecedented”, the WMO meant since 1850, which is a micro-second of history to a paleo-climatologist like Carter. He takes a long-term perspective, pointing out that the world has been warming since 17,000 years ago, cooling since 8000 years ago, cooling since 2000 years ago, warming since 1850 and is little changed since 1997. Consequently, “the answer to the question ‘is global warming occurring’ depends fundamentally on the length of the piece of climate string that you wish to consider”. He goes on: “Is today’s temperature unusually warm? No – and no ifs or buts.”
I have been saying the same for years. Look at the map of eastern north America. Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are moraines left by the last major glaciation, which started retreating hereabouts between 11,000 to 9,000 years ago.
I wish our young men in bow ties were aware of the basic facts concerning recent glaciations. I write this sweating on one of the hottest days of the Canadian summer, imagining what it would have been like to be here 13,000 years ago, under two vertical miles of ice sheet. Rather more like Greenland’s ice cap than the green hills of the Eastern Townships.