By Rich Lowry
Without a doubt, the climate-obsessed green movement is the most stupidly self-destructive force in the world today, leaving a trail of irrationality and folly wherever it goes.
Consider its recent record of destroying the country of Sri Lanka, making Western Europe needlessly vulnerable to Vladimir Putin’s energy blackmail and stoking higher energy prices in the U.S. that have contributed to the fastest decline in real wages in 40 years.
The greens are rapidly making up ground on the socialists as the modern world’s foremost economic and social saboteurs (and, of course, the two now work hand in hand).
If a hostile actor were to consider the best way to harm a society from within, it would unquestionably be to increase the sway of climate alarmists and other environmentalists who believe it is their righteous duty to make it harder and more expensive to power a modern economy, as well as to build and grow things.
They seek to throw the gears into reverse on the millennia-long human quest for cheaper, more abundant and more reliable sources of energy, while putting new obstacles in the way of other human endeavor.
Since they are fired by a quasi-religious vision of an existential climate crisis on the verge of ending Planet Earth, they reject cost-benefit analysis, not to mention basic realism. The resulting wreckage is all around us.
Sri Lanka achieved one of the highest ESG, or Environmental, Social and Governance, scores in the world and destroyed its economy in the process. The country banned chemical fertilizers in April 2021 as it hurtled toward becoming the world’s first all-organic country. It proved one small step ahead for environmental pieties and a giant leap backward for Sri Lankan farmers. A large proportion of land went dormant, and production of rice, tea and other crops dropped precipitously. The resulting economic calamity has led to the collapse of the government.
This is basically the Green New Deal in miniature.
Sri Lanka is a small island nation in the Indian Ocean; Germany is a powerhouse in the middle of continental Europe. But the green disease doesn’t discriminate on the basis of size or wealth.
For years, Germany pursued a policy of making itself dependent on Russian oil and (especially) gas, while congratulating itself on its great environmental virtue as it closed down nuclear power plants and ramped up renewable sources. Berlin can’t say it wasn’t warned of the risks of this approach. Such is the faddish grip of climate orthodoxy that it blew past all the blinking red lights. Sure enough, now Russia may well cut off the supply of gas this winter, at the same time that renewables have proved not ready for prime time (they are too intermittent, among other technical problems that won’t be solved anytime soon).
In its wisdom, Germany decided to shut down the source of energy that is clean, reliable and doesn’t require dependence on an authoritarian state hostile to the West — namely, nuclear power. It fell prey to the environmental left’s superstitious hostility to nuclear. Even now, Germany is going ahead with shuttering its last three plants. It is turning again to coal to try to fill the gap this winter, underlining its disastrous mistake in prematurely eschewing such proven sources of energy in the first place.
Here in the U.S., of course, Biden pledged to “end fossil fuel” back in 2019, a promise — given our prodigious reserves of oil, gas and coal — that would make almost as much sense as Russia or Saudi Arabia pledging to do the same. Even as inflation, with energy prices leading the way, destroys Biden’s presidency, he and his supporters are determined to pursue a climate agenda that will drive up costs and create inefficiencies at home while doing next to nothing to affect global temperatures.
It makes no sense, but for the greens, that’s never been a particularly important criterion.
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.
(c) 2022 by King Features Synd., Inc.