Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Brendan O'Neill: Revenge of the feudalists

COP28 confirms that environmentalism is an ugly revolt against modernity.

‘The Earth does not belong to us’, said King Charles at COP28 in Dubai last week. I don’t know about that, Your Majesty: a lot of it certainly belongs to your family. When he was Prince of Wales, Charles oversaw the Duchy of Cornwall, which consists of 205 square miles of land spread across 23 counties in England and Wales. Upon his ascension to the throne last year, he handed this vast territory to his son, William. Since 1337, you see, it’s been the heir to the throne who has enjoyed command over the duchy. Imagine the brass neck it takes to pontificate to the plebs about their non-ownership of the Earth while you and your family sit atop vast tracts of land worth £1 billion. What the king should have said is: ‘The Earth does not belong to you.’

Rarely has the feudalistic streak in green politics been so fantastically exposed. Here we have a king of unimaginable wealth and unearned power flying by private jet to a tribal autocracy to wag his finger at the global masses over their eco-unfriendly behaviour. At COP, Charles rubbed shoulders with the monarchs of the United Arab Emirates – ‘an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state’, in the words of the New York Times – and other kings, sultans and emirs. He chinwagged with the Sultan of Brunei, who owns 7,000 luxury cars, including 300 Ferraris. Then they’ll tell you you’re killing the planet by driving to Tesco once a week in your Skoda. He made merry with the Emir of Qatar, a multi-billionaire who has an entire ‘fleet’ of private jets, some of which can carry his limousines. Then they’ll damn you for polluting the skies with your annual Ryanair flight to Mallorca.

So many monarchs, billionaires, CEOs, celebs and climate-change windbags are flocking to Dubai for COP that the carbon footprint of the blasted event is expected to be stratospheric. For some perspective, COP26, held in Glasgow in 2021, had over 38,000 delegates and together they pumped out a whopping 102,500 tonnes of CO2 – the same amount produced by 8,000 Britons in a year. The Dubai COP has more than double that number of delegates (97,000), many of whom are rocking up in a ‘flurry of private jets’ and some of whom will mingle in the freshly built Leadership Pavilion, with its ‘shades of cream and gold’, ‘designer lighting’ and general ‘vibe of a luxury car dealership’, where the strictly non-alcoholic tipples include ‘iced Americanos’ made with a ‘gem of a bean from the Kaw Kaw Mountain in Papua New Guinea’. Then they’ll tell you to turn off the heating in your terraced house to ‘save the planet’.

And who built the facilities in which this gold-collared superclass will gather to bemoan the perils of modernity? Poor Africans and Asians, of course. In October, it was revealed that migrant workers were toiling in ‘perilous heat’ to construct the luxury buildings in which His Majesty and others would be holding forth on the world’s end. Human-rights researchers even found evidence of migrants working during the ‘midday ban’ – a UAE law that forbids outdoor labour during the hottest hours of the summer months in order to protect workers from potentially fatal heat exposure. ‘I get headaches and feel dizzy’, said one worker. ‘I thought I would die every second we were outside’, said another. Pipe down, peasants – the King of England has virtue to signal.

Let’s be frank: this year’s COP is a grotesque spectacle. On the backs of badly paid workers, the insanely wealthy will gather to lament the industrial world. In a monarchical statelet made filthy rich by oil, global influencers will lecture us little people about why it’s better to cycle than to drive. A sultan who reportedly has gold-plated toilet brushes will catch up with a magnate who’s richer than 40 countries (Bill Gates), all with an eye for working out how to phase out fossil fuels, the stuff that dragged the rest of us from pre-modern penury into something like a good life. A king and friends will tell us we’re responsible for this heating planet as they luxuriate in air-conditioned facilities built by migrants who feared they would die in the heat.

Imagine going back in time and telling Cromwell there’s another King of England called Charles and this time he’s not only lording it over the peasantry of the British Isles but the peasantry of the entire Earth. Charles told COP he has seen the impact of climate change ‘across the Commonwealth and beyond’ (my italics). And that’s why he’s demanding ‘real action’ to avoid the ‘alarming tipping points’ of climate change. Let’s leave to one side that this is the man who said we have ‘100 months’ to save the planet 176 months ago – that ‘alarming tipping point’ didn’t turn out to be so alarming, did it? The more worrying thing is his allusions to the world ‘beyond’ his Commonwealth, where he imagines his eco-wisdom is sorely needed. Through climate change, he’s positioning himself not only as King of the United Kingdom but also king of a dying world: an activist monarch who must save all humanity from its industrial hubris.

Is it just me or does environmentalism increasingly feel like the revenge of the feudalists? It is actually not surprising the king is drawn to a cause that demonises modernity and fantasises that things were better before those cursed spinning jenny’s started spinning. The Industrial Revolution was a sucker blow to aristocrats. Its violent shifting of Britain from an agricultural economy to an industrial one robbed the old blue bloods of much of their economic advantage and everyday clout. There’s a reason British environmentalism is overrun by angry posh people. By plummy youths called Indigo and Edred. By ‘Econians’, as Harry Mount calls them, in a green spin on ‘Etonians’. A survey of 6,000 Extinction Rebellion activists found they were overwhelmingly middle-class [and] highly educated’. Of course they were: eco-hysteria is aristocratic rage against progress.

Now, the old aristocrats mingle with new eco-aristocrats, that layer of the global technocracy that is devoted to problematising modernity. Hence, at COP28, kings and sultans rub shoulders with think-tankers and activists, all united in their desire to undo, or at least tame, the Industrial Revolution. This year’s COP will focus on the question of how to phase out fossil fuels. It is impossible to overstate what a catastrophe this would be for the workers and peasants of the world. Eighty-four per cent of global energy comes from fossil fuels. Phase out these fuels and you phase out human life itself. In the words of Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, if the greens’ war on fossil fuels were to be successful, it would ‘result in exactly the kind of apocalyptic scenario they claim climate change is causing’. In the abstract, neo-religious name of ‘saving the planet’, it seems any level of human suffering can be justified. As Joel Kotkin says of the new feudalists’ rush to Net Zero: ‘The ruling classes of a fading West are determined to save the planet by immiserating their fellow citizens.’

The president of COP28 – the UAE oil boss, Sultan Al-Jaber – is getting it in the neck today after it was revealed that last month, in an online discussion, he said there is ‘no science’ to show that a phaseout of fossil fuels will save the planet from ‘global heating’. Phasing out fossil fuels is crazy, he said, ‘unless you want to take the world back into caves’. He’s backtracking now. I wish he wouldn’t. It’s the only sensible thing I’ve heard from any of the attendees of that medieval gathering of anti-modernists in the desert. The eco-aristocrats will still be in their palaces and mansions once modernity is undone, but the rest of us really would be back in the caves, or at least in huts or slums. The fossilphobia of the new feudalists poses a far greater threat to humanity than fossil fuels themselves. Off with their hysteria.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer. This article was first published HERE


DeeM said...

Nobody cares about these pointless conferences anymore.
And nobody cares about Charles, either.

Still, when you've got nothing better to worry about than what the newspapers are saying about you and yours, I suppose you need a distraction. Jump in your private jet, stay at a lavish hotel, and mumble your way through endless champagne and nibbles, while saying how awful it is that the Earth's getting a teensy bit hotter.

One of the few downsides of our new government is that they aren't doing anything meaningful to fight back against the woke climate change fad.

Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton Claims "Extreme Heat" Has Killed Half A Million People??


The two time failed presidential candidate went on to claim that “extreme heat” had killed 61,000 people in Europe last summer.
“We don’t have that kind of number yet from Africa, Asia, Latin America but we know and estimate that we probably could measure about 500,000 deaths and the majority of those are women and girls and particularly pregnant women,” she added.

Cop28 is being held at a rather inconvenient time for climate change technocrats and controligarchs since Europe is experiencing a potentially record-breaking cold snap.

The 61,000 extreme heat deaths figure from Europe is taken from a study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, which is funded by groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which are heavily invested in pushing climate change hysteria.

I’m sure they’re not biased at all!

Anonymous said...

Nearly 4,000 Ford dealers have publicly pushed back against the push to cram EVs down their (and our) throats. This is good news – in the same way that it was good news when people began to refuse to take the drugs being pushed on them as “vaccines.”

But the dealers – let alone the car manufacturers – haven’t yet pushed back against the predicate for the pushing.

Against the lie that it is necessary to push people into EVs – that is, to use EVs to push most people out of cars (and thereby, most car dealers out of business) – in order to avert a “climate crisis.”

Margaret said...

DeeM, I do wonder about this new government's wokeness and am concerned about the terrible battle they have to take on from the last government's legacy.

It may be a case of picking your fights. Where do you put your priorities? Maureen Pugh's election win in the Labour stronghold of the West Coast is a good sign. To bring in dirty coal from Indonesia and cancelling out West Coast coal was a stupid move by Labour.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

Looking at today's Euronews, extreme COLD deaths appear to be a bigger threat right now!

Anonymous said...

This kinda noise is fine - keeps them busy.
Practicality will prevail.

(I am not de facto endorsing third world exploitation).

In the meantime we need to focus on what is happening in NZ.

In a recent conversation with a mature well educated white person in a position of influence, I was advised in no uncertain terms there was no apartheid in New Zealand.

DeeM said...

The Rotowaro Opencast Mine near Huntly supplies ALL the coal to Huntly Power Station - our only coal fired station.
About 20 years ago, Genesis sourced some Indonesian coal which, quality wise, was almost identical to ours. Cost landed in NZ was similar to ours. So its no dirtier than our coal.

West Coast coal has NEVER supplied the Huntly Power Station. Some of it is high quality coking coal which is exported out of Lyttleton and commands a much higher price than thermal coal. The rest goes to dairy factories etc.

I'm all for using the generation methods that are the most cost-effective, most reliable and have the lowest imprint on the environment. That puts wind and solar bottom of the list in my book.

DeeM said...

Sorry. To clarify my last comment, which I reread and could be misleading, I should state that no other NZ mine, only Rotowaro, has ever supplied coal to Huntly.

However, in the last 20 years Genesis has sourced BOTH Indonesian and Rotowaro coal in various mixes, and sometimes exclusively one or the other.
The Rotowaro Opencast Mine is reaching the end of its operating life.

Robrt Arthur said...

This time did we expend several tons of CO2 to send some juvenile to waste the meetings time with a speech which would have ranked 3rd rate in any marae competition?
And did miniscule Pacicic Isalnds dominate when their population could be absorbed in a square mile of Delhi?