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Climate change: the onset of madness


2021-11-05 08:25:59


Just past 6pm yesterday, our petition topped 10,000 signatures. Some may dismiss the achievement as a "waste of time" but at least it is an achievement. It requires the government, under its own terms, to respond, thus serving notice that there are people who are not at ease with the government's policy.

Of course, it is much easier to whinge and move on, as is the habit of Spiked, which has editor Tom Slater turning out a pretty word about environmentalism, telling us it "cannot survive democracy", and then weakly dismissing the idea of a referendum the ultimate manifestation of democracy.

All he can then conclude is that "something has got to give". Says the man, "The lesson of the past five years is that the public won't put up with being pushed around forever. One way or another, they will make their presence felt".

Short of demonstrating in the streets and irritating the hell out of people to absolutely no effect, I can't think of a better stratagem for the moment than to use the tools available limited though they are. And then, when we have exhausted all the available avenues, and been contemptuously dismissed as, I am sure, will eventually be the case that will legitimise further measures.

There is perhaps some very small consolation to be gained from the polls, with a YouGov poll showing the gap between the Conservatives and Labour closing, with only one point between the parties.

The poll was concluded before the chaos of the last two days, over the fate of Owen Paterson and while, in the longer term, small poll movements are meaningless, anything which adds to the nervousness of Tory backbenchers and thus, potentially weakens the grip of Johnson on his party - cannot be bad.

It was the fear of rebellion within his own party, as much as any external threat which induced David Cameron, as early as 24 October 2011 to think in terms of an EU referendum. It was then that the Commons debated a referendum petition organised by Nikki Sinclaire.

Although Cameron won the vote, 79 Tory MPs disobeyed the whip, making it the biggest backbencher rebellion since Maastricht. Cameron knew then that, unless he agreed to a referendum, we would have difficulty holding his party together.

Thus, while there are those who are quick to dismiss our initiative, it is fair to say that there are many Tory MPs who are deeply unhappy at Johnson's "green" epiphany, and they might consider a referendum on "net zero" to be an exceedingly good tool with which to beat him.

Since our petition is directed at Johnson's policy and does not overtly challenge the climate change orthodoxy a call for a referendum could also be supported by opposition parties. They might accept that the best way of securing public support for the measures inherent in a "net zero" policy is to open it up to debate, followed by a popular vote.

Certainly, there is a desperate need for an open debate, not least to shed some daylight on the disturbing developments we are seeing from the CoP26 eco-fest.

What particularly worries me is the almost casual alliance between governments and corporate businesses, and the harnessing of financial and legislative power in pursuit of a global agenda based on fear, the imposition of which transcends any idea of democracy.

This is particularly the case where this government intends to use the coercive power of financial institutions to dragoon businesses into conformity, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak declaring that we must "rewire the entire global financial system" in the service of climate change.

When this is combined with the media's willingness, uncritically, to support that agenda, with a deliberate attempt by the national broadcaster to close down the debate, with moves to suppress dissenting opinion in social media, we have the makings of a very dangerous situation.

Without putting too fine a point on it, there are elements of the arrangements here which are not entirely dissimilar to fascism. As we drift further from any semblance of democracy into soft totalitarianism, we risk losing hard-won liberties.

Confronted with the doctrinaire views of some commentators - such as the eco-zealot George Monbiot, who is currently advocating leaving fossil fuels "in the ground" we would normally dismiss such ideas as fringe craziness. But in the madness that seems to be descending on our politics, this begins to look frighteningly close to mainstream policy.

Far from being slapped down, it seems the madness is spreading, with frankly insane articles such as this, which conveys details of a report which argues the escalating rollout of gas for heating, electricity and cooking is turning it into the "new coal". Thus, we are told, its use worldwide must be "slashed by nearly a third" this decade to avoid "disastrous climate effects".

This is from the Guardian which, only a few days ago, ran a story telling us of the woes of "renewable energy firms", with warnings of "difficult conditions as slower-than-usual winds and supply chain difficulties delay manufacturing".

At multiple levels, it is plainly evident that renewables are not yet capable of taking on the load from fossil fuels and, in the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that they ever will. Thus we are being faced with a staggering level of technical illiteracy which now seems to be at the heart of national and international policy-making.

Financially as well, the precipitate phase-out of fossil fuels would have a disastrous effect, crashing the value of assets currently worth trillions of dollars and potentially precipitating a global financial crisis.

Yet, far from being prompting a brake on the ambitions of the climate worshipers, this is seen as a "challenge", heedless of the risks to exporting nations such as Russia and Brazil (to say nothing of the Middle East) , and without in any way considering the consequences in terms of political instability.

Already, we are seeing what might well be pushback from the Russians with a report that the Federation has cut gas to Europe and is amassing military assets on western borders.

Specifically, Gazprom has halved its supply to Ukraine since Monday after cutting gas completely to a pipeline through Poland, while the United States has been monitoring significant Russian military movement along the border with Ukraine, following reports of a military build-up in Russia's west, close to Belarus.

In the rarefied atmosphere of CoP26, where oxygen starvation must be the dominant factor driven by communal hyperventilation - there seems to be no understanding that, when you start messing about with global energy supplies, you are playing with a political powder keg which has the potential to trigger any number of very nasty wars.

All of which brings us back to our modest attempts to bring about a national debate on "net zero". The effort may be modest, but the stakes could not be higher. And, if the effort is not enough to stop the growing madness, it is for the moment all we have. When more is needed, we hope that there are others willing to step up to the plate.

Also published on Turbulent Times.