There are good environmentalists and bad environmentalists. Or, it is more accurate to say that more often than not there are good and bad ideas about environmental questions that exist within the same person. In this article I depict this complex reality in simple terms: good Green and bad Green.
The Green Party has a leader, Bob Brown, who makes things up (that the Queensland floods were the direct responsibility of the coal industry), promotes policies that are incompatible with immediate low cost economic growth (coal is bad) as well as longer term economic growth (nuclear is bad too).
Bob Brown represents the dying Greens, the bad Greens. Sooner or later his ideas will be replaced by good Green ideas. My estimate is that the bad Green ideas have peaked and are now in decline.
Let it be said that concern for the environment is a good thing. The environmental movement has alerted us to the real dangers of anthropogenic global warming, real threats to endangered species, etc. These issues are not the most important issues in the world but they are significant. There is a real need for some sort of environmental political movement.
The bad Green movement may appear to have real strength in Australia, with the Gillard minority government (enmeshed in an alliance with The Green Party) recently announcing her carbon tax plan. Or, as she prefers, her carbon price plan. The appearance of strength is illusory. The politics of The Greens has peaked and Gillard’s embrace of a carbon tax will quite likely contribute to her demise at the next election, whenever that is held.
Internationally, the bad Green movement is on the retreat.
The IPCC and Al Gore had a high a few years ago with the release of the movie, An Inconvenient Truth and their subsequent award of the Nobel Prize. But the actual impact of this movie was to decrease support for climate legislation. Gore claimed that, “the truth about the climate crisis is an inconvenient one that means we are going to have to change the way we live our lives”. This led to a backlash in the mainstream from people who were not prepared to fundamentally change their lives.
To an extent, significant sections of the green movement recognised that BIG FEAR, the alleged end of the earth, was not working and so they altered their propaganda, with more emphasis on the allure of green jobs. However, the people do not believe this either because rising energy costs leads to a greater loss of jobs than any new jobs that might be created.
Hence, the need to remake the environmental movement, as outlined in the above article by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. They advance 12 theses for a Post-Environmental movement. These theses are a mixture of what the environmental movement should stop doing (critique) and what it should start doing (rebuilding). I’ll provide a brief summary here:
1. Better or louder climate science is not going to change opinions
2. Big FEAR is counterproductive
3. There are good reasons apart from anthropogenic global warming to decarbonise the economy
4. Behaviour change won’t solve global warming
5. Climate change is not a traditional pollution problem
6. Price regulation won’t work
7. We need more energy and renewables are currently too expensive and so can’t provide what is required
8. Future projections using economic models are too open to manipulation
9. Cheaper energy is the bottom line
10. Nuclear is good
11. The scale involved requires State intervention
12. Big is beautiful
I think they are on the right track. The environmental movement will become more successful when it takes itself off the front page and resumes it proper place as a minor political issue. It needs to become the tail that the dog wags and stop pretending it can be the tail that wags the dog.