Updated: Oct 31, 2022
By Jordan Peterson for The Telegraph 28-10-2022
Utopian solutions for saving the planet are doomed to failure - and worse. We must wake up before it is too late!
This winter, millions of British citizens, including children, will be tipped, or dumped, into energy poverty severe enough to risk permanent damage to their health. Cold, damp houses provide the perfect breeding ground for mould that not only causes respiratory distress, but renders houses essentially unlivable once established.
One Left-leaning newspaper ran the story outlining the danger, but without a word about why this crisis has emerged: because the woke moralisers of the "environmental" movement helped to create it.
The narcissists of compassion – callow, self-aggrandising, incompetent politicians, their celebrity lackeys, Machiavellian journalists – have insisted ever more loudly over the last five decades that no cost was, and is, too great for others to bear in the pursuit of blind service to "the planet."
It is irresistibly tempting at the moment for those on that bandwagon to single out Vladimir Putin for Europe’s energy woes, but his current machinations were utterly enabled by the green ideologues. Anyone with eyes could see a decade ago that the idiot insistence that Europe make itself reliant on Russia for its energy security made the current situation inevitable.
Remember when President Donald Trump – populist menace numero uno – was mocked and derided by the intellectual and political elite in Europe and North America for trumpeting precisely that warning? Well, now the chickens have truly come home to roost, but very little has yet been learned in consequence.
It appears to be the latter. Why otherwise would the mavens of the environmental movement oppose nuclear power, despite its optimal "carbon footprint"?
Utility bills have soared in the UK, the home of the Industrial Revolution that lifted the world out of poverty. Now up to half of small businesses in Britain face the risk of bankruptcy and closure. The Government has had to announce a ruinously expensive Energy Price Guarantee to mitigate the worst effects of this disaster.
The rush to renewables
The mentality among the eco-extremists is as follows: if we have to doom the poor to destroy the system that made the rich, so be it. You just can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
Here is one fact to remember, while we so madly and ineffectively rush to renewables.
Research has recently indicated that two decades of intense support for such undertakings has hiked the proportion of energy provided by such means from 13-14 per cent to an utterly underwhelming 15.7 per cent. Unfortunately the liberal Left see this as a mere fabrication of the conspiratorial Right-wing conservative imagination.
But the tyrannical and emergency-justified panicked crunch is not just happening in the UK. In Spain, officials now dictate that commercial properties must not be heated above 17°C or cooled below 27°C upon pain of law. In Switzerland, similar punishments are being considered as part of a proposed four-step plan for dealing with a gas shortage, which “cannot be ruled out this winter given the geopolitical situation.”
The citizens of Germany, likewise, are now in “phase two” of a “three-stage emergency plan” following a reduction in gas flows from Russia, its main supplier. The plan involves “bringing coal-fired plants onto the market,” according to German Minister Robert Habeck, despite them being “simply poison for the climate,” and the potential of gas rationing for industrial companies so that supplies to homes and schools, etc., are not disrupted.
The extended plan involves curtailing the Christmas lighting that constitutes part of the celebration in the midst of the winter darkness in many locations where they generally shine. Nothing either beautiful or pleasing is acceptable in the least to the Grinches (and the Grinch was in fact green) when confronted by the crisis they created.
Remember: when the aristocracy catches cold, the peasants die of pneumonia. If such extreme measures have become necessary in the richest countries, what in God’s name is going to happen in the poorer ones? When the shortages strike, the poor will inevitably and necessarily turn to less green resources: many, even in Germany, are already stockpiling firewood and coal for the winter, leading to acute shortages. How is incentivising people to cut down and burn trees and use coal in their fireplaces going to help reduce the dreaded "atmospheric carbon load"?
The actual poor versus the hypothetical poor
Perhaps we’ll be able to comfort ourselves, here in the West, with the thought that the food we take for granted will still be available at our tables. But, wait: the crops that nourish our populations cannot be grown without fertiliser (loathed by green folk) and, more specifically, without ammonia. And what, pray tell, is ammonia derived from? Could it be…natural gas? And how many people are dependent for their daily bread on the industrial generation and consequent wide availability of ammonia? Only three or four billion…
The World Bank itself has recently indicated that 222 million people are already experiencing the threat of starvation (described oh-so-nicely as "food insecurity"). The Communists managed to kill 100 million in the last century with their utopian delusions; we’ve barely begun to implement the "save the planet" nightmare, and we’ve already placed twice that number at risk.
We are told an emergency confronts us: the climate "crisis." The solution? The masses will have to "tighten their belts" to forestall an even worse future catastrophe. The elite academics, think-tanks and corporate consultants, and the politicians who subsidise their intellectual pretensions, will not be particularly affected by such tightening – "privileged" as they are. But the actual poor? To such an elite, they must be sacrificed now to save tomorrow’s hypothetical poor.
222 million people is, no doubt, an underestimate: as the "food insecurity" gets more severe, more countries will place restrictions on food exports. That will harm the international supply lines we all depend on. Then, when the consequences of that manifest themselves, increasingly desperate politicians will begin to nationalise and centralise food distribution (as the French and Germans have already done on the energy front) and cut their farmers off at the knees, who will in turn stop growing food – not out of spite, but because of dire economic impossibility. Then we will have engendered the kind of feedback loop that can really spiral out of control. It will be poor people who die (first, at least), but as we have all been taught by the malevolent eco-moralisers: the planet has too many people on it anyway.
Think about this, while you shiver all too soon in your cold, damp and increasingly expensive and now sub-standard lodgings. You and your family may well have been deemed an expendable excess.
Food for thought
This is simply not acceptable. If you dare to claim the moral high ground while serving the cause of starvation then – by my reckoning – you’ve placed yourself firmly in the enemy camp, and you richly deserve whatever is coming your way.
In the psychological and educational arenas, too, we demoralise young people, feeding them a constant diet of concretised apocalypse, focusing particularly on tempering or even obliviating the laudable ambition of boys, hectoring them into believing that their virtue is nothing but the force that oppresses the innocent and despoils the virginal planet. And, if that doesn’t work – and it does – then there’s always the castration awaiting the gender-dysphoric. And you oppose such initiatives at substantial personal risk.
But we can reassure ourselves with the fact that a beneficent government is going to set up warm spots in public libraries and museums this winter so that freezing, starving old people can huddle together to keep warm while their grandchildren cough up their lungs in their frigid, damp, and mouldy flats.
In such circumstances – in the race of such mandatory privations and manipulations – it’s obvious that the last thing our tyrannical virtue-signalling governments should be doing is directing their demented attention toward regulating what people serve at their tables. But because meat has also been deemed yet something else that is "destroying the planet," the woke narcissists of compassion are already insisting that people eat less of it. Plants and bugs for you and your children, peasants. And the sooner you get accustomed to it (or else) the better.
Let’s turn our attention to the claim that animal husbandry and the meat it produces cheaply enough for everyone to afford is unsustainable, for a moment, because we haven’t yet dispensed with enough moralising and authoritarian stupidity.
Remember what happened the last time that governmental agencies applied their tender mercy to determining what the people they serve should consume? We were offered the much-vaunted food pyramid, telling us to eat 6-11 servings of grains and carbohydrates a day, with protein and fat at the pinnacle – something to be indulged in with comparative rarity, if indeed necessary at all.
That all turned out to be wrong, and not just a little wrong, but so wrong that it might as well have been not just wrong but a veritable anti-truth: something as wrong as it could possibly get.
The food pyramid was brought into being not least by the US Department of Agriculture (that is, by marketers, not scientists or nutritionists), with no shortage whatsoever of lobby efforts by those whose products ended up being promoted. The dietary recommendation to prioritise carbohydrates produced a veritable epidemic of obesity and diabetes, resulting in what has been deemed by reliable researchers as one of the worst public health disasters of all time, dooming almost the entire Western population to a lifetime of catastrophic chronic health problems.
Forty-two percent of Americans are obese. Another almost equally large percentage are overweight. At least a third are in the early or later stages of diabetes, which is an exceptionally serious disease. $1.7 trillion dollars is spent on chronic illness in the US. And the rise in such illness and cost is directly associated with the beginning of the godforsaken top-down dietary guidelines that set us all on a carbohydrate-heavy dietary pathway.
There have been, in addition, dozens of studies debunking the claim that red meat causes disease. The PURE study published in the journal Lancet in 2017 analysing 140,000 individuals from 18 countries revealed that “higher carbohydrate intake (not meat and fat, note) was associated with an increased risk of total mortality” and that “higher saturated fat intake was associated with lower risk of stroke.”
That is exactly the opposite of what we have been told by the beneficial centralising agents who tasked themselves with determining what we, as sovereign and responsible individuals, should put in our mouths.
So the "health benefits'' of a pure vegetarian and vegan diet are dubious at best. But what of the argument that animal husbandry is killing the planet? Well, the American Environmental Protection Agency estimates that all farming produces only 11 per cent of greenhouse gases in the US (transportation produces 27 per cent). Livestock accounts for 3 per cent. And plant-based agriculture? Five per cent. According to the National Academy of Sciences, if we eradicated all animal-based agriculture, we’d reduce greenhouse gases by a mere 2.6 per cent. And it’s no simple matter, by the way – and perhaps impossible – to manage a diet that is sustainable in the medium-to-long-term by merely dining on plants. Chew on that.
Ex Hodos: the pathway forward
What might we do, instead, if we chose to be genuinely wise, instead of inflicting want and privation upon the world’s poor, while failing utterly and disastrously to save the planet?
We could begin by assuming, here in the West, that all those frightened into paralysis and enticed into tyranny by their apprehension of the pending apocalypse have bitten off more than they can properly chew; have taken on a dragon much more fire-breathing and dire than they are heroic; have failed entirely to contend with the moral hazard that comes in assuming that the faddish emergency of their overheated imaginations emergency entitles them to the use of power and compulsion.
If your apprehension of the looming catastrophe, whatever its form, has made you into a terrified authoritarian, willing to frighten and compel to get your way, you are simply not the right leader for the times – as the unconscious manifestations of your own nervous system, telling you that you are just too small for the job at hand, are clearly indicating, even to you.
We could begin by dropping our appalling attitude of moral superiority toward the developing world. We could admit instead that the rest of the planet’s inhabitants have the right and the responsibility to move toward the abundant material life that we have enjoyed, despite ourselves, for the last century and which has been so entirely dependent on industrial activity and fossil fuel usage.
We could work diligently and with purpose to drive energy and food prices down to the lowest level possible, so that we can ease the burden on the poor, and open up their horizons of possibility, so that they become concerned (as they inevitably and properly will) with long-term sustainability instead of acting desperately and destructively in pursuit of their next meal.
We could concentrate on an intelligent plan of stewardship instead of anti-human "environmentalism" along the lines of the plans outlined by multi-faceted and diligent experts such as Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, who pointed out years ago that we have a multitude of crises facing us and not just one (the hypothetically apocalyptic danger of "carbon"), and that we could spend the money we are wasting killing poor people in a much more intelligent and judicious manner, devoting some resources, for example, to ensuring a stable food supply to poor children in the developing world, treating malaria – something we can do and cheaply – and delivering fresh water where it is truly needed.
We could as well work out the details of a truly sustainable agriculture with the most expert farmers to improve the quality of our soil and air and provide everyone with enough high-quality food (which will most definitely involve animal-based agriculture). We could bring a halt to the presumption that the state should extend itself by dint of its hypothetical moral superiority to the governance of how we heat our own houses and feed and provision our own families.
We could, finally, delegate authority to the most local possible of levels, following the principle of subsidiarity, and produce a hierarchy of responsibility that extends necessary purpose to everyone individually, at the family and community and state level, and that serves as a necessary bulwark against the blind and Luceriferian prideful-intellect-based top-down tyrannies of emergency and compulsion that will otherwise necessarily reign.
We could work out our concerns with sustainability through consensus and in the spirit of voluntary association and free play instead of relying on top-down edicts, justified in principle by our misplaced existential terror and carrying with them the moral hazard of the accrual of unjustified and dangerous centralised authority. We could distribute to everyone their requisite responsibility as sovereign actors and can bring them on board with the power of a common vision: one of life more abundant; enough high-quality food for everyone; enough energy so that slavery becomes a thing of the past; enough purpose so that nihilism and decadence no longer beckon; enough reciprocity so that we live in true peace; the generous provision of education and opportunity to everyone in the world; the conviction (to say it again) that policy based on compulsion is misguided and counterproductive.
We could thereby have our cake and eat it too, and so could everyone else, and we could work toward that in a mutual spirit of productive generosity and fair play in competition and cooperation. Or we can let the world go to hell in a handbasket, blame that disintegration on the very enemies we identified as causal in the first place (those damned capitalists!), and fail to clean up our own souls as we persecute the imaginary wrong-doers responsible for the destruction of our planet.
Identifying the real danger
As the psychologist Carl Jung said in the aftermath of the Nazi atrocities and the use of nuclear weapons: "it is becoming more and more obvious that it is not starvation, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is mankind’s greatest danger, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes."
That great man knew that technological man had a stark choice in front of him: to become as ethical as he had become powerful, and that a real hell awaited if we refused the challenge.
The rate of change is accelerating. Our ability to do almost everything is doubling, faster and faster. As our ability to communicate and to compute accelerates, the consequences of our inner disunity and insufficiency become ever more serious. As we become individually more powerful, in other words, we must take on more responsibility. Or else.
If we fail to rectify our personal pathologies, of pride, envy, and the willingness to lie, we will find ourselves mired in conflict with the world, both natural and social – and in precise proportion to our refusal to check the devil within.
So we have a stark choice in front of us: we can re-orient ourselves to the cause of truth, or we can act out the conflict, imposing our self-serving instrumental delusions on the world, bringing about in that manner an external apocalypse that will result in precisely the same judgment.
It’s time for all of us, but especially the self-righteous moralisers, to get our individual acts together, to take on some real moral responsibility, instead of falsely broadcasting unearned virtue far and wide and so cheaply and carelessly.
It's time to drop the prideful intellectualism so overweening that we are willing to use compulsion and force to get our way – always for the sake of the general good. It's time to drop the envy that makes us criticise and demonise anyone who has more than us, driven by the presumptions that such abundance must be the consequence of the application of arbitrary power and the result of theft – while what we have obtained, even though it is more than many possess, was merely garnered by the force of goodwill and morality.
It’s time to shed the inexcusably pathological presumption among the elite that only corrupt power rules (everyone except them) and to express some gratitude for the traditions of the past and the near-miraculous infrastructure we have been granted.
It’s time to take on the abandoned civic responsibility that has been justified through an unearned cynicism and return necessary authority to the local levels that moderate top-down tyranny.
It's time, as it always has been and always will be, to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Finally, it’s time to say no in some absolute and fundamental sense (and without hesitation) to all those who dare to propose that dooming perhaps a billion people to starvation and penury is justified by the potential consequences of failing to do so. So no one gets to say with impunity: "the planet has too many people on it."
Too many people have already been sacrificed in the last hundred years on the altar of future utopias. Enough, truly, is enough.