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October 30 2019

What's Behind the Left's Fixation with Climate Change?

by Charlotte Hays

Demographer Joel Kotkin's City Journal article headlined “Climate Stalinism” is getting a lot of attention. In it, Kotkin maintains that the climate change agenda isn’t just about saving the planet. Kotkin explains:

The Left’s fixation on climate change is cloaked in scientism, deploying computer models to create the illusion of certainty. Ever more convinced of their role as planetary saviors, radical greens are increasingly intolerant of dissent or any questioning of their policy agenda.

They embrace a sort of “soft Stalinism,” driven by a determination to remake society, whether people want it or not—and their draconian views are penetrating the mainstream. “Democracy,” a writer for Foreign Policy suggests, constitutes “the planet’s biggest enemy.”

Working and middle class people, according to Kotkin, are skeptical about climate change and fear that the draconian measures supposedly required to combat it will undermine their ability to make a living. Americans rated climate 11 on a recent poll on public concerns. But affluent greens are unfazed:

Across the world, green-backed policies have hurt the working class far more than the affluent rich who most enthusiastically embrace them. The militant Extinction Rebellion—which the online magazine Spiked has described as “an upper-middle-class death cult”—has tried to disrupt commuters in Britain in their drive to “save the planet” but has earned more angry contempt than support from harried workers. Though cast by the media as heroic outsiders, greens have historically clustered in elite academic, nonprofit, media, and corporate sectors.

 . . .

Whatever its failings, twentieth-century socialism was growth-oriented and in principle devoted to expanding working-class wealth. In contrast, the green version of socialism consciously seeks to depress the average family’s prospects, since prosperity will generate more greenhouse gases.

. . .

Draconian climate austerity does not threaten the jobs of the so-called “clean rich,” who may benefit as investors in solar and wind energy, the trading of carbon offsets, and other activities of the “climate industrial complex.”

Some old-style leftists, like British Marxist historian James Heartfield, see the emergence of “green capitalism” as a new ruse for the upper classes to suppress the lower by creating artificial scarcity in everything from energy to housing and food. Greens seek to restrict air travel for the masses, but climate activists like Prince Charles, Richard Branson, Leonardo di Caprio, the rapper Drake, and Al Gore continue to fly in private jets, even to climate-crisis summits.

. . .

For most families, the policies of climate radicals promise only a degraded quality of life, including calls for restrictions on having children due to their “carbon legacy,” a proposal endorsed by climate researchers at Lund University in Sweden and Oregon State University. Some scientists even suggest that we shift from eating hamburgers to low-resource-intensity “maggot sausages.” A Swedish economist recently suggested that we recycle ourselves and discover the refinements of cannibalism.

Kotkin takes a dim view of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s climate agenda:

Imagine what will happen if a President Elizabeth Warren bans fracking in places like Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania; in Texas alone, by some estimates, 1 million jobs would be lost. Overall, according to a Chamber of Commerce report, a full ban would cost 14 million jobs—far more than the 8 million lost in the Great Recession. And the environment itself would be somewhat of a loser in this game—natural gas has done more to reduce emissions than all the greens’ efforts.

It’s a longish article, but I urge you to read it in its entirety.





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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