Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate change activist, was not invited to attend the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference, and therefore denounced it, explaining that her true objective was not to battle climate change but to undermine the rotten racist Western capitalist system. Thereby she showed herself in her true colors, which are the deep red of the vast majority of the climate change movement. For them, the precise temperature of the planet in 2100 is of only moderate interest; by far their greater objective is to subject what remains of the free market to their own control, and thereby achieve a planned economy, Communist rather than socialist since it would control speech and leave no place for individual freedom.
Probably the clearest indication of this comes from the UNCCC’s central objective of preventing more than a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures by 2100. That sounds fairly reasonable and well-balanced, until you read the small print and discover that the figure is backdated to the start of the Industrial Revolution and includes the 1.2 degrees increase we have already experienced (some, possibly most of which was a natural fluctuation after the Maunder Minimum cold period we suffered in 1500-1700).
There is no possible environmental reason why we should set such a tight limit of 0.3 degrees on further temperature increases, which is impossible to achieve without wiping out the global economy altogether (no, a simple move to driving Teslas and eating our vegetables will NOT do the trick)! By setting such a limit, the UNCCC enables itself to denounce all reasonable attempts to address climate change as hopelessly inadequate and to support measures of extreme state control and curtailment of individual liberty that will impoverish almost all the world’s population.
If climate change were thought to be a really important issue, and solutions to it were genuinely being sought, the UNCCC would set a much more realistic goal for global temperature increase, perhaps 2.5 degrees Celsius above current temperatures, rather than basing its goal on temperatures from hundreds of years in the past (which on a global scale were grossly inadequately measured). It would also work towards a globally agreed carbon tax, the best way of allowing the free market to achieve that goal at minimum cost and with maximum innovation. By doing neither, the UNCCC has demonstrated its true objective: the same objective as has now been revealed by the gorgeous Greta – to destroy the global economy and the capitalist system.
In recent years, the UNCCC, like WHO and other UN organizations, has fallen in with the Chinese drive to weaken Western economies and establish their own dominance. The UNCCC deludes Western governments into imposing impossibly expensive regulations such as “net zero” and electric automobiles mandates – the latter of which are hopelessly impractical because of the electric grid’s lack of capacity. Meanwhile China itself and to a lesser extent India ignore the UNCCC gatherings altogether, except for vague promises to be good boys by 2060 and build coal-fired power stations with abandon. By doing so, they benefit not only from the additional power capacity of coal-fired stations but also from the ultra-cheap coal available to them because the idiot West is decommissioning that fine wonder-fuel to which we owe so much of our modern civilization.
The West’s only advantage is that China’s need for political dominance over its people is causing it to move back towards a centrally planned economy, to the great detriment of its people’s welfare and its economic efficiency. However, since the climate change wokies are forcing central planning on the rest of us, that gives us no long-term advantage but merely a simultaneous descent into universal long-term misery.
Given the destructive fanaticism behind the UNCCC, it is extraordinary that apparently sensible global leaders are still turning up to its 27th annual meeting in Egypt – not itself a leader in the climate change movement, but presumably welcoming the massive eco-tourism. Britain’s new prime minister Rishi Sunak had initially proposed to follow his lamented predecessor Liz Truss’s intention of not attending but, subjected to even mild pressure from the leftist media and the wokerati, Squishy Rishi caved. Modern Tory prime ministers are like cushions; they always take the shape of the last left-wing pressure group that sat on them.
The climate change extremists’ true aims are also shown by their disdain for clean, efficient non-carbon-emitting nuclear power and their preference for windmills and solar panels. Windmills are a technology well suited to the low-level machinery of the 17th century Netherlands, but even there, they resulted in locking that unfortunate polity in a backward technology, so it missed out on the first century of the Industrial Revolution.
As for solar panels, with their vast scale and landscape-destruction capability they resemble nothing so much as vast Egyptian temples to the sun-god Ra – maybe COP27 is being held in an appropriate location, after all! Should we adopt solar technology, we will need to recruit vast armies of slaves and brutal overseers with whips to build new industries the way they built the Pyramids. As Bjorn Lomborg recently noted, replacing a square yard of a gas-fired power plant requires 73 square yards of solar panels, 239 square yards of on-shore wind turbines, or an astonishing 6,000 square yards of biomass. That is the level of inefficiency to which we are condemning ourselves.
It is now clear that almost everything we believed in the 1990s was wrong. We did not destroy Communism in 1989-91; it merely morphed into a thousand more insidious forms, subverting freedom and capitalism from within rather than confronting it directly. Globalization did not bring peace and improved living standards; it brought the hollowing out of manufacturing throughout the Western world, the immiseration of the Western working classes, and the arrival of that ultimate sick joke for ordinary people: technological change without productivity growth. Margaret Thatcher’s achievements in reviving the British economy and helping to destroy Soviet Communism have been negated by her foolishly lending her credibility to the beginnings of the “climate change” hysteria, which is destroying the freedoms and prosperity for which she fought so hard.
We then compounded that error, beginning at a fatal Fed meeting of February 1995, by deciding that interest rates could be held below their market levels by a benign Fed, without adverse consequence to the economy. As this column has remarked, this was the same mistake made by the Soviet Union’s GOSPLAN setting prices at artificial levels. It was compounded by Ben Bernanke, who in 1998 convinced the unfortunate Japanese to set their interest rates at zero, decade after decade, a mistake from which they are finding it impossible to emerge except by devaluing the yen until Japanese living standards are those of the Third World.
The GOSPLAN interest rate policy was converted into a Soviet-level control of the economy by the Bank of England’s Mark Carney and Andrew Bailey, who instigated a species of moral nagging about the economic catastrophe of Brexit, the defects of the free market and the undesirability of actual Tories in government for over a decade – the Bank’s carefully staged financial crisis of September, to defenestrate Liz Truss, demonstrated both their power and their objectives.
The world needs an example of strong free-market policies, relegating “climate change” to its proper place well down the list of priorities and re-establishing the proper place of government as a humble modest-sized devotion to the well-being of its ordinary people. Alas, we are unlikely to get such an example this side of 2025, and probably not then. Meanwhile, the wokie destruction of our civilization accelerates.
(The Bear’s Lair is a weekly column that is intended to appear each Monday, an appropriately gloomy day of the week. Its rationale is that the proportion of “sell” recommendations put out by Wall Street houses remains far below that of “buy” recommendations. Accordingly, investors have an excess of positive information and very little negative information. The column thus takes the ursine view of life and the market, in the hope that it may be usefully different from what investors see elsewhere.)