A Rare Green Defence of Democracy

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Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Against a rising tide of green calls for an environmental dictatorship, its refreshing to read that some greens think ordinary people should have the right to choose their own future.

Democracy Is the Answer to Climate Change

Contrary to popular belief, elected leaders are better equipped to address the problem than their autocratic rivals.

The Paris agreement of December 2015 raised new hopes that the worst effects of climate change might yet be averted. This agreement, whose signatories have agreed to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a voluntary basis, marks the first major international pact to combat climate change since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In contrast to Kyoto, however, whose signatories accounted for only about 14 percent of global emissions, the countries that signed the Paris deal account for a whopping 96 percent.

Of course, the outstanding question is whether the agreement will actually be implemented. As its critics are quick to point out, the Paris climate pact is a “soft law” that lacks the legal clout to impose sanctions and penalties, but rather attempts to change behavior through norm-building and consensus. And past attempts by individual nations to control greenhouse gas emissions have produced scant results.

Pointing to the susceptibility of democratic governments to interest groups that have an economic stake in maintaining the status quo, environmental ethicist Dale Jamieson questions whether democracy is up to the challenge of climate change at all.Dale Jamieson questions whether democracy is up to the challenge of climate change at all. Scientist James Lovelock is similarly pessimistic, noting that human inertia is so great that, barring a catastrophic event, the best democratic governments can do is to adapt to climate change — i.e., building sea walls around vulnerable cities. Lovelock argues that, to make the hard decisions needed to deal effectively with climate change, it may be eventually be necessary to put democracy on hold, opting instead for some kind of environmental authoritarianism.

But is it really necessary to choose between democracy and saving the planet? A comprehensive review of various countries’ progress towards environmental sustainability suggests otherwise. In fact, the case against democracy as a vehicle for environmental sustainability may be grossly overstated, based less on the actions of the world’s democracies as a whole than on the failures of a conspicuous few.

Read more: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/06/01/democracy-is-the-answer-to-climate-change/

Democratic societies tend to be wealthy societies, they tend to be societies in which most people have enough financial security to care about issues other than where their next meal is coming from. Democracy promotes individual wealth, by helping to curb official corruption. However dodgy some of the shenanigans in Washington might seem, they are only a shadow of the abuses which occur in places where the boss has absolute, unquestionable authority.

The author concludes that better education will convince people to push for stronger green measures. I believe better science education helps people see through green exaggerations. Whatever voters ultimately decide, I think its reassuring that there are some greens who are decent people, who oppose blatant ongoing efforts to use green catastrophism as an excuse to deprive ordinary people of their liberty.

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74 thoughts on “A Rare Green Defence of Democracy

    • Well the USA is not a Democracy; it’s a Republic. We have a Constitution that TELLS our elected leaders, what they can and cannot do, and it tells them some things that they MUST do.
      They don’t have much authority to tell US what to do. We are born free.
      G

      • George
        Good luck with that. Your naiveity is amazing. I suggest you put down the temperature charts and read a wider range of historical and current facts. When choosing your next President, please select one that is less likely to destabalize the rest of the world where the rest of us live. We have to live your poor choices on a daily basis.

      • Kiwikid,
        If you believe Trump is a threat to the world, you can blame lazy and derivative media for that misimpression.
        Equally and more profoundly, if you think the current American leadership is bringing stability to the world, you can also blame a lazy derivative media.

      • hunter old soul,
        I didn’t read ‘Trump’ into kiwikid’s comments.
        May I – from the East of the Atlantic – suggest that some think it could apply to Trump or Clinton.
        From here, that looks like the choice to be presented to the American people in the autumn [‘fall’ over where you are].
        Whether the great American People like it or not.
        Blimey – on rereading his comments, he might have meant the current incumbent, possibly.
        Or, from a British point of view, even George Washington (!).
        At present, our 2020 Election – if the current party leaders survive as such – is between a son of the folk in the Manor, and a rather experienced Premier, who went to Eton.
        Whether we like it or not.
        The late Harold Wilson said, “A week is a long time in politics!”
        Auto

  1. Lets see how the next US presidential election comes out, with Hilary Clinton sucking up to the greens, and Donald Trump characterizing CAGW as a hoax, before one discounts the effect of propaganda by the current adminstration.

    • Tom Halla commented: “Lets see how the next US presidential election comes out,…”
      AGW isn’t even on the election’s radar.

      • Why would Trump want to
        ===========
        it would make for a landslide victory, and shake up the press and both political parties for years to come.

      • For every socialist vote he gains, he would lose two votes from sane people.
        Put an avowed socialist one heartbeat from the presidency?
        No better way to demonstrate that even with Trump, there is no real difference between the parties, so why bother voting.

      • Bob, voting for Johnson/Weld is effectively voting for Clinton, as the Libertarians will not draw many votes fron the Democrats. While I have sympathy with the Losertarians, the old nickname is apt– almost anyone but Hilary.

      • Bob
        Help a Brit.
        Your local politicians have a profile over here just marginally higher than most of our local politicians do in Saginaw.
        States for J & W please?
        Auto

  2. Sec. Kerry was at a commencement today doing everything but
    yelling BOOO! Global Storms! Cat and Dogs! falling from the sky!
    I can’t find the transcript yet heard it on ABC radio news.

    • This is serious stuff. No only are the “voies sur berge” (the roads in the bed of the Seine) closed, now the railway closer to the Seine, RER line C, is closed too.
      Le Louvre is closed to give time to personnel to move some archived collections. A ridiculous quantity of art is bought by the State, kept in the Louvre and never shown to the public. It’s state funded vulnerability!

  3. >The author concludes that better education will convince people to push for stronger green measures. I believe better science education helps people see through green exaggerations.
    Hmm, prog_on: Which is exactly why science education will continue to be dumbed down and “education” will consist of learning how to identify the correct scientific and other authority figures, i.e. scientists who teach at prestigious universities, who are members of prestigious societies, who get published in the prestigious journals, and who win prestigious awards from prestigious organizations. That’s how you know who’s right, right? Right? :-/

  4. The author concludes that better education will convince people to push for stronger green measures. I believe better science education helps people see through green exaggerations.

    That depends on your definition of “better.”

  5. Got to laugh at the green machine.
    They want to disassemble the economic mechanism, that creates the wealth, that mitigates Natures tempestuous nature…in order to save Nature from people.
    Cart/Horse and all that.
    The Day after Tomorrow (2004 Musical Comedy Film) has a wave cresting upon the Statue of Liberty around the 80 meter mark above MSL. Still nothing tops the San Andreas (2015 Zombie Rom Com) San Francisco Tsunami Scene.
    Saves on cleaning I suppose.

  6. They are arguing from effect to cause. They aren’t interested in democracy – just whatever system they can game to succeed in their aims. If they thought a feudal system would deliver, they would be pushing for that. …

    • Dodgy wrote:
      “If they thought a feudal system would deliver, they would be pushing for that. …”
      I think the endgame of their green policies will be a feudal system. However, there are some stops along the way.

  7. UN Agenda 21 and its offshoots seek to create more than just a green dictatorship.
    We need to be aware of this because even if AGW is repudiated by all, (as it should be), Agenda 21 will carry on with its insidious brain washing by penetration of our schools, local governments and its creation of cadre administered groups.
    Check out this document for instance;
    https://thedemiseofchristchurch.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/unitednations-conference-on-human-settlements_habitat1.pdf Section D “Land”. The red emphasis is mine.
    See my blog at http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com especially at https://thedemiseofchristchurch.com/2013/03/13/are-we-experiencing-a-communist-infiltration-sponsored-by-the-united-nations/
    Cheers
    Roger

    • Forrest, clearly the idea is for most to be “useful idiots”, who think they are saving the world. Of course the reality is a host of recognized social motivations set in, peer pressure and monetary reward being but two of a long list.

    • Oh come on – people still don’t believe in the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, do they?
      Its conspiracy theory merchants that undermine proper debate on climate change

      • Griff commented : :…Oh come on – people still don’t believe in the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, do they?
        Its conspiracy theory merchants that undermine proper debate on climate change…”
        I see they have you right where they want you. Another useful idiot added to the team. I dare say you don’t have a clue how Agenda 21 is being carried out today. Do you? Check with the people in New Zealand and Australia how their lives have been affected already in the name of Agenda 21.

      • Griff commented : “..Oh come on – people still don’t believe in the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, do they?
        Its conspiracy theory merchants that undermine proper debate on climate change…”
        I see they have you just where they want. Look up the definition of “useful idiot”. When the IPCC openly states that AGW is not about climate but instead about wealth redistribution you ignore it?

      • Griff: Perhaps the UN would prefer people to think it a conspiracy. That way they can create more useful idiots. It reminds me of the John Harrington quote:

        Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason.

      • From Rosa Koire’s blog:
        “SOUNDS LIKE SCIENCE FICTION…OR SOME CONSPIRACY THEORY…BUT IT ISN’T.
        UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is the action plan implemented worldwide to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all energy, all education, all information, and all human beings in the world. INVENTORY AND CONTROL.—-Rosa Koire
        Have you wondered where these terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘smart growth’ and ‘high density urban mixed use development’ came from? Doesn’t it seem like about 10 years ago you’d never heard of them and now everything seems to include these concepts? Is that just a coincidence? That every town and county and state and nation in the world would be changing their land use/planning codes and government policies to align themselves with…what?”…. Rosa Koire
        Check out some of Rosa Koire’s YouTube videos.

    • Forrest and Griff
      I would say that every city that is a member of ICLEI http://www.iclei.org and a member of “Resilient Cities”, including my city, are actively involved.
      For instance if you look at the exemplar on my site https://thedemiseofchristchurch.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/exemplar-3-2008-exam.pdf you will understand how this attempts and possibly succeeds in indoctrinating school children to the Agenda 21 way of thinking. Also if you explore the site at http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea/assessment/view-detailed.do?standardNumber=90812 where the exemplar came from and look for the base documents you will see Agenda 21 the Brudntland Report and similar as base texts listed there.
      Here is some info from the UN website itself.
      https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/agenda21/
      The Rockefellers finance “initiatives” on Agenda 21. Search your own governments both local and state and you will come across the headings “Agenda 21”, The Brundtland Report or “Our Common Future” will pop up there too.
      Even Wikipedia gives a reasonably detailed page on it.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brundtland_Commission
      The very word “sustainability”, which we hear every day, comes from Agenda 21.
      There is no end to this subject.
      Griff
      It cannot be described as a conspiracy theory because Agenda 21 and all its aims are all over the web in black and white and is a large part of the general UN operation.
      Cheers
      Roger
      PS please read my blog and all posts and read every link. A large part of the story is there.
      https://thedemiseofchristchurch.com/2013/03/13/are-we-experiencing-a-communist-infiltration-sponsored-by-the-united-nations/
      Cheers
      Roger
      https://thedemiseofchristchurch.com

    • @ Leo 11:19 pm: You think exactly the same way a name sake did ( my father) he said the same same thing years ( 25) ago when he was 68 years old and had been a gardener for most of his life. He dismissed climate and said “you are never around to experience climate, you feel weather”. Still sticks with me to this day.

      • Someone should print up handheld signs with that statement. We can just hold it up whenever some AGW nutcase starts talking.

    • Leo, and that is exactly the problem. If there is any more of this unprecedented continuity we are going to have to seriously reconsider a large number of prophecies.
      Perhaps, like many other prophecies, they are fulfilled metaphorically and are only understood after the fact. There is plenty of wiggle room in climate catastrophism to be right about something.

  8. I am not happy about how the word “green” or “environmentalist” has been stolen by the collectivists and socialists.
    Since the sixties of last century, I have been reliably on the side of “conservation”. Green as it were. But the crazies took over every group — I dissociated myself from all of them decades ago.
    I am against large agribusiness putting chemicals on their fields that run off into the lakes and streams. But no group seems to give a damn about that anymore. CO2 and ending western industrial society is all that matters to these groups now it seems. (but not the industry of China for some odd reason.
    As the comic used to say — “America, what a country!”
    ~ Mark

    • markstoval
      June 2, 2016 at 2:10 am
      “But no group seems to give a damn about that anymore. CO2 and ending western industrial society is all that matters to these groups now it seems. (but not the industry of China for some odd reason. ”
      ******************************************************************************************************************
      I agree, but it is certainly not “some odd reason”. I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic but just to make it clear:-
      The reason the greens and environmentalists steer clear of action against China is that they know they would get short thrift. The Chinese would introduce them to a gun barrel. Yet they still believe that a similar system in western societies would turn out to be what they want, despite all the evidence before them – the same with the scientific evidence – they’ll only believe what they want to believe and ignore reality. Perhaps they’re all banking on being high-up party members!
      SteveT

      • From a noble enterprise in the 60s – 18 to 19 – environmentalism has been subverted by multi-billion dollar special interests, like Greensheep and their mindless bots – the greensheeple.

      • Steve T wrote: “The Chinese would introduce them to a gun barrel.”
        That’s exactly why the Left won’t take on the Chinese. They are afraid of them. That is also why they won’t take on radical Islamic terrorism.
        On the other hand, the Left will fiercely attack their domestic political opposition with everything they can muster. Because they know they have no need to fear physical violence from Conservatives, and the Right.

      • TA, it’s partly that and it’s partly an enemy of my enemy thing.
        Most of them believe that the true evil is western capitalism. Anyone who opposes that is a potential ally.

      • Thanks Eric, When you look at the whole of this environmental movement there are pieces that are done behind the scenes.
        Environmental easements for one. Groups selling the land back to the government.

    • “I am against large agribusiness putting chemicals on their fields that run off into the lakes and streams. But no group seems to give a damn about that anymore.”
      That’s because they’ve figured out the EPA or Erin Brochovich will handle that….it’s mere details to them, they are after the “big picture”….i.e. that CO2 increase has caused that agribusiness to put chemicals on their fields to that it runs off into lakes and streams. See? Easy justification for them.
      I too have disassociated myself with any movement that uses the word “green” or “environmental”. I never thought I would have to do that, but I have. This polarization and extremism is just too much. You can’t just want to save the whales by diplomatically working with other countries regarding fishing rights–nope, now you have to ‘save the whales’ by demanding and forcing your viewpoint through imaginary catastrophes and indoctrinate non-believers into drinking the Kool-Aid. The whales can wait because you’ve got something much bigger and better on your plate that will save them all.
      We keep coming back to the AGW viewpoint as a religion–but it is more of a cult. The only thing that is missing from their crusader’s hands is a sword in one hand and a copy of Inconvenient Truth in the other. Unfortunately in their evangelistic rhetoric; they all have failed to see the point completely. THEY are not high priests/priestesses of Nature, the guardians of her temples from the evil plague of humanity because Nature/Gaia/Mother Earth is NOT a supernatural being in danger of being destroyed. This anthropomorphic viewpoint of a rock has led them into believing that by the sheer will of their arrogance they will save it from the sledgehammer of humanity.

    • Farmers don’t want what they put on their fields to run off into lakes and streams. That’s a waste of expensive chemicals.
      Most of what runs off into lakes and streams comes from individual homeowners and their lawns.

      • Mark, thank you. If people would take the time to review fields they will see that there is a dike around the majority. Most have a small canal around them, which the diggings were used to create the dike. This is how they moved the moisture required to grow the crops. All crops, trees, flowers, shrubs, lawns require a bit of nitrogen. I wonder if these CATS care for a lawn, or is it just weeds. The need to be careful with this if there is a homeowner association that will fine them. Got to love HOA Nazi.s.

  9. I certainly agree about an emphasis on science. But let that be REAL science and not science which cannot be queried or challenged or where counter arguments are dismissed on the specious grounds that the ‘science is settled’. First up with any such new emphasis should be the motto of the (UK’s) Royal Society. “Nullius in verba” (Take nobody’s word for it). The present Royal Society (and that in Scotland too, The Royal Society of Edinburgh) should try to follow this themselves.

  10. From the Lovelock interview in 2010

    such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica, such as the Pine Island glacier, which would immediately push up sea level.

    What about the conundrum of the Antarctic not warming? You denier!

    • James Lovelock has changed his position on CAGW. At this point he appears to be a lukewarmer. He has retracted most of the positions he took before 2012.

      “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened;” he continues wiki

  11. ‘the best democratic governments can do is to adapt to climate change — i.e., building sea walls around vulnerable cities.’
    Statist action from democratic government. The best democratic governments can do is . . . nothing. The people will adapt. Without government “help.”

  12. The author, Robert Looney (how fitting!) is being disingenuous. He even lists the top three footdraggers of the Climate Campaign as the US, Canada, and Australia. Fortunately for both democracy and humanity, democratic principles and truth, although much-battered and bedraggled still reign supreme, despite the best efforts of the Climatists.

  13. From the link: “Journalists have already begun to press home the direct link between human-induced climate change and weather-driven events, such as California’s record drought and the increased number and intensity of Australian bushfires.
    British Columbia has imposed a carbon tax, California has initiated a cap-and-trade carbon plan, and Melbourne has set a goal of zero net emissions by 2020.
    Now, could someone please tell me how imposing a (Carbon Dioxide Tax) new revenue stream for the re-election campaigns of crooked politicians and bureaucrats to steal more taxpayer money for themselves, their families and their buddies will make the weather better in BC?
    Could someone please tell me how allowing millionaires to buy carbon credits and become billionaires by selling them will make it rain in California?
    Could someone please tell me how zero CO2 emissions in Melbourne will help the people?

    • Funny thing, the scientists, even most of the warmista scientists say that it is impossible to link a single weather event with global warming.
      Yet the activists and journalists keep telling us that every bad event is directly the result of global warming.
      It’s almost as if there was no such thing as bad weather prior to about 40 years ago.

    • Considering the state of journalism today, anything “journalists” are pressing is almost certainly false. 😛 Of course, it is all about the feelings, not the facts. Results do not matter, as long as you can feel superior to your betters.
      See what I did there?

  14. Democracy is perhaps a bulwark against egregious excess, although as the great one, George Carlin pointed out, democracy is only there to give you the illusion of control.
    No, the public attitudes against CAGW as a threat are driven by the simple wisdom of crowds. In the classic experiment, a sealed jar of jelly beans is put in the window of a store. Passersby are invited to write their guesses about the number of jelly beans on a slip of paper.
    “Scientists” among them will attempt to estimate the size of the jar, the beans, packing density, build models of the jar, etc. Everyone else will just look at the jar and with no knowledge, write down a number, like 793.
    The most accurate guess about the number of jelly beans will inevitably be the average of all the uneducated guesses – the wisdom of the crowd.
    The “crowd” knows that CAGW is baloney, that there is no imminent threat – no visible sea level rise, no cars melting into lumps in the noonday sun – heck people seek out warmer climates. They know that warm is good and cold is bad – an ingrained knowledge of all humans for at least the last million years – if not of all animals and plants since life began.
    The reason the Greensheep movement is failing to sell CAGW is because they are trying to “educate” people to act against what people instinctively know is correct.

    • The thing that “the crowd” can get snookered by is the whole “the weather is getting worse” meme, which is why the Alarmists have latched onto that. People have short memories, and are too lazy to look things up, plus, it is easy to get fooled by the fact that, thanks to the internet, plus the fact that the lamestream media have latched onto weather as OMG-the-sky-is-falling news 24/7.

    • I am actually pretty good at the whole jellybean thing, but I just use some simple math. Funny how many simple things result in more accurate results than elaborate schemes. Some of my relatives who worked in factories used to talk about how the college educated big wigs would come visit the factory and tell everybody how they could do their job better. Then the people who actually ran the factory (with a high school education at most) would tell the big wigs why those fancy ideas literally could not work.
      Valuable life lessons there. Education is not worth much if you have no experience, and you should not tell someone to do something unless you KNOW it will work!

  15. “Democratic societies tend to be wealthy societies, they tend to be societies in which most people have enough financial security to care about issues other than where their next meal is coming from. ”
    I agree but as The European Union, for example, becomes more and more authoritarian and less democratic as it pursues its vision of a European superstate, it is creating poverty in Greece, Spain, Italy etc as it pursues the policies of its very own “enlightened dictatorship”. Hence showing the above statement to be true.
    We in Britain have a chance in 3 weeks time to escape from the clutches of this dystopian monster in our referendum and hopefully rule ourselves again in a global world, as global citizens, not a backwater of a failing and doomed project.

  16. While the green author’s support for democracy is indeed refreshing, his reasoning is flawed. He essentially compares the general environmental performance of existing third world dictatorships to existing wealthy democracies. The autocracies proposed by the green elites are neither of these. They are a new kind of theocracy, based on irrational beliefs in vague future promises of salvation of the world, imposing pure, “carbon-free” lifestyles and punishing apostates and heretics with imprisonment or execution.
    To be honest, given that most people are rational and will always choose real benefits vs imaginary salvation, I think the only way they can achieve their ideal (at least in their minds) world is by forcing people to do their bidding, at least until renewables become cheaper and truly capable of supplying the world’s energy somehow.

  17. As a physical scientist who has studied Statistical Mechanics, I have a fairly good familiarity with the statistics of very large numbers of items. The solutions implemented by autocrats and dictators are of necessity limited in scope, and thus flawed.
    No individual or cadre of like-minded people is capable of comprehending all the nuances present in a statistically large system – i.e. millions or billions if individual elements – especially if that system is as diverse as a human population.
    Individuals will act in their own self-interest because they do not comprehend the whole. Even the liberals who claim to act in the best interests of the world, the people, the children, the animals, or whatever cause are acting solely in their own self-interest, seeking the approval of other individuals who claim to know what is best for the rest.
    There is a wilderness of ideas in which a law of natural selection applies. All ideas are considered, tested, and the less fit ideas are abandoned in this wilderness.
    When ideas are only allowed to breed in captivity less fit ideas that are attractive to the people doing the breeding are selected, and the more robust wild types are discarded.
    When the ‘captivity’ breaks down, as it eventually must, the custom-bred types (the chihuahuas, shih-tzus, whippets, and such) will be helpless against the wild types (the dingoes, wolves, wild dogs, hyenas, etc.).

  18. Democracy didn’t help Australia avoid stupid decisions such as half a dozen useless desal plants or a useless carbon tax. There is no doubts that democracy in Australia has been made ineffective with parties that either are controlled by being in a coalition with the Greens when Labor was in power or by control of the senate by the greens and left leaning independents when Liberals were in power. We have had a minority green influence controlling the agenda for the last 10 years. Unless green groups ( the modern anti business greens) have zero influence over policy then democracy in Australia doesn’t work. I am fearful that the latest senate changes will make the green balance of power a permanent fixture with less than 15% of the voters controlling all our lives.

  19. I learnt from this article there is such a thing as an environmental ethicist, or at least such a thing as someone claiming to be one. Why one would claim such a preposterous title is another thing entirely…

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