Why I am no longer a Green

 

That is a surprising statement for someone to make when he read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring  half a century ago and has been green ever since.

I can boast like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11! But I am not speaking like a fool 🙂 Every garden of mine has had a compost heap, I tend to grow organically, plant flowers, shrubs and trees to attract wildlife, ride a bike when I can (and even more so for fun), energy economical – or bloody mean and keeping the heating down; and lots of other things to get brownie points from treehuggers. I have voted Green and been active in Friends of the Earth.

However, I confess that the disimulation and nastiness of anti-frackers made me reconsider my green credentials.I found greenie Christians , as a whole, no better as so many repeated the dodgy dossiers of Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth , Frack Off and the rest of them, and often think I don’t care for the environment because I think f***ing is a good rather than a bad thing.

So I had to become a Green anti-green. Or so I thought until I came across the alternative, which goes by the clumsy name of Ecomodernism.  I stumbled across it and as I read it, I found that it summed up the position I had come to myself as I rejected the orthodox green faith. I had to apostasize from evangelical greenery as I found they were not quite honest and from their moral high ground didn’t give a damn for the poor especially those freezing to death. Far too many in Britain are living like this;

fuel poverty

Some get upset by this blog; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/aunt-elsie-rip-13-january-2020-a-fracking-shame/

But back to Ecomodernism.

You will find their manifesto here

http://www.ecomodernism.org/

To comment briefly on the Manifesto; many criticise their split of intense human habitation and wilderness, where they argue agriculture should be intesive rather than centred on small farms and small-holdings. At first I baulked at that and then realised we have no choice if we are to feed the world, which I consider a moral imperative. As for wilderness, which I love, it is not suitable for much human habitation without wrecking it.  An example of wrecked wilderness is the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which has less feel of wilderness than many of the hilly parts of Britain.

Grand Canyon wilderness seen from the south Rim. LH picture is the Bright Angel trail which makes a nice August day’s walk RH is the Unconformity

494greatunconformity

Mt St Helens; wilderness at its most wild (Oct 2009)

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And two within 30 miles of my home in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland

DSCF3617017

Needless some have tried to shred them like George Monbiot and co. It is a great shame and it would be far better if all concerned about planet and people looked for the common ground that unites, rather than minor differences. But then are stuck with a green ideology which takes them over. I will say no more but here is a fine article which outlines  the different perspectives of those who care for planet and people by Matthew Nisbet with the unfrotunate title of  Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change.[ Ref;Nisbet, M. C. (2014), Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change. WIREs Clim Change, 5: 809–823. doi:10.1002/wcc.317] and on-line

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1002/wcc.317

He discusses the three main approachs from Bill McKibbin, who sticks to protesting not realising that this will not change everything despite Naomi Klein, through Al Gore and Lord Stern, who try too hard to face both ways to the Ecomodernism of Nordhaus and Shellenburger, who have recruited Mark Lynas to their ranks.

In his paper Nisbet presents the different stances on the various issues in the table I reproduce below. (apologies for the imperfect copying)

Table 1. Public Intellectuals and their Arguments for Action on Climate Change
Group Problem Framing Outlook on Nature Outlook on Technology Policy Proposals Model of Social Change
  • 1Monbiot supports nuclear, carbon capture.
  • 2Gore skeptical of nuclear, carbon capture, puts stronger faith in market than Sachs or Stern to drive innovation.
  • 3Artistic expression specific focus of Kingsnorth.
Ecological Activists
Examples:

  • B. McKibben
  • D. Suzuki
  • C. Hamilton
  • G. Monbiot
  • N. Klein
  • P. Kingsnorth
Capitalism, consumerism has exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet, risking catastrophe, or certain collapse. Sacred, fragile nature provides human salvation. Must be kept separate, protected against human influence. Advocate small-scale, locally owned renewables. Warn that nuclear energy, genetic engineering too risky, promote consumption.1 Call for strong regulation of industry, rationing of energy use, localization of economies, food systems, governance. New consciousness spread through grassroots organizing, social protest. Artistic attention to ‘ecocide’, myth of progress.3
Smart Growth Reformers
Examples:

  • T. Friedman
  • Gore
  • N. Stern
  • J. Sachs
  • A. Lovins
Climate change is ultimate market failure, corrected by putting price on carbon. Progress blocked by ‘deniers’. Nature has limits, but ‘dangerous interference’ can be avoided by smart policy, ‘stabilizing emissions’, enabling ‘sustainable growth’. Market pricing will drive adoption of renewables, energy efficiency. Need government to catalyze nuclear, carbon capture.2 Call for binding international agreement, national carbon pricing, and government investment in innovation. Market mechanisms drive change. More recent calls for grassroots pressure, third-party movements, new ‘mindfulness’.
Ecomodernists
Examples:

  • S. Brand
  • M. Hulme
  • R. Pielke Jr
  • S. Rayner
  • T. Nordhaus/M. Shellenberger
  • A. Revkin
Misdiagnosed as environmental problem and market failure. Should be re-framed as energy innovation and societal resilience challenge. Nature is more resilient than fragile. Innovative, high-energy planet can promote human progress, while conserving, managing nature. Renewables not capable of meeting energy demand. Need government to develop natural gas, nuclear, carbon capture, other innovations. Argue for portfolio of ‘clumsy’ policy approaches across levels of society, government investment in energy technologies and resilience strategies. Technologies that lower cost of action, public forums that challenge assumptions create conditions for cooperation, innovation.

Sometime I would like to write up a Christian Ecomodernism, if only to counter the Bambi eco-theology.

 

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10 thoughts on “Why I am no longer a Green

  1. Ian Hore-Lacy

    Good one! But surprised (from nuclear energy perspective) at Lovins in second not first category!
    I agree Ecomodernism is the most clear-headed approach to the future with application of environmental principles since the 1960s (when CND caused environmentalism to become anti-nuclear power).
    Now for a Christian enhancement or refinement of Ecomodernism!

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  2. Paul Braterman

    I hate the way beliefs cluster together, so as to define a tribal loyalty, however absurd the outcome. Is fracking good for the planet, because natural gas generates only half as much carbon dioxide as call for the same amount of energy, and has other advantages as well, or is it bad for the planet because it helps keep the cost of fossil fuels low, thus delaying their replacement? That is a complex question that needs to be discussed on its merits, and a sensible answer will require the very hard work of assessing, without optimistic evasions, how quickly fossil fuels can be replaced. How tempting to avoid such a demanding task, and feel virtuous at the same time, by pretending that fracking is EVIL on the basis of demonstrably absurd allegations about its impact, and the fact that the companies engaged in it plan (shock, horror!) to thereby make a profit.

    I came across the Ecomodernist Manifesto a few months ago. I have avoided promoting the term, because, as you hint, it carries its own tribal baggage; it is associated with one particular think tank that is strongly opposed to a carbon tax, something that to my mind is the simplest single way to align market forces so that they work towards a sustainable future.

    However, it is but one part of an emerging literature, of which the award-winning Adventures in the Anthropocene is another example, that welcomes the artificiality of our lives, both as necessity and as opportunity, and as opportunity not only for us, but for what remains of nature. Local involvements have prevented me from studying these idea as they deserve, but I hope to be in a position to discuss them later.

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  3. Pingback: The Greens – The (unofficial) Ladybird Guide | Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin

  4. Andy

    Hi Michael, thanks for re-posting my Ladybird spoof. Have you seen Patrick Moore’s book? He co-founded Greenpeace and helped coin the term “sustainable development”, but seems to have a taken a similar trajectory to yourself and is now a bitter critic of the green movement and it’s anti-human ideology http://www.amazon.co.uk/Confessions-Greenpeace-Dropout-Sensible-Environmentalist/dp/0986480827/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460234246&sr=8-1&keywords=patrick+moore+greenpeace . Although very different, Matt Ridley’s “Rational Optimist” is brilliant. I have also seen an interesting critique of Ecomodernism here http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/beware-greens-in-progressive-clothing/18044#.VwlnHxMrJP1 (which I tend to agree with). All the best, Andy (PS I was a vegan CND & Greenpeace activist once too).

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  5. Pingback: Humboldt, the father of environmentalism. Interview with his biographer | Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin

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