Thursday, 21 August 2014

Climate and the bourgeoisie

An early low-carbon bourgeois
From Wikipedia

To my mind the orthodox climate narrative is obviously political, not a scientific discovery about the future. Equally obvious - it was designed for maximum bourgeois appeal. So what is the attraction of such a superficially alarming narrative?

As we all know, the orthodox climate narrative is wrapped around an apparent threat to bourgeois comforts via drought, floods, rising sea levels and many other catastrophes. Sounds scary, but the mitigation part of the narrative holds out a juicy promise of unlimited future comforts via sustainable energy.

Admittedly one would have to be gullible to swallow the sustainable energy guff, but that is what feed-in tariffs are for - to create a misleading sense of familiarity with wind and solar. Familiarity is half the battle. Add in a green badge for saving the planet and the job’s mostly done.

Saving the planet by developing clean, everlasting energy sources. What else offers more appeal to the bourgeois sense of entitlement? What else offers such balm to the uneasy modern conscience?

The up-front demands are minimal. A spot of recycling, some curly light bulbs and a Toyota Prius on the drive. No neighbour can beat it for quietly sanctimonious swank.

Not only that, but the potential rewards are enormous – nothing less than a life of permanent comfort. Because it’s sustainable isn’t it? That’s the carrot. Beneath the sanctimonious shroud-waving, the climate narrative has a deeply selfish appeal – deferred gratification on a humongous scale.

No wonder the Guardian and the BBC push it with such sanctimonious relish. No wonder they react with such swivel-eyed malice towards anyone who might threaten the dream.

Many climate sceptics seem both angry and confused at the casual dumping of scientific integrity by the climate narrative. I think this is because the rewards so covertly offered to the climate faithful are hugely underestimated. Apart from five centuries of scientific progress the sacrifice is not excessive for those able to afford their energy bills without undue stress. Yet the supposed gains are disproportionately colossal.

Seth Pecksniff is alive and well. These days he recycles his Waitrose wine bottles, pops his old trousers in the charity bag and drives a Toyota Prius on mileage allowance.

The attempt has been made, and wrongly, to make a class of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is simply the contented portion of the people. The bourgeois is the man who now has time to sit down. A chair is not a caste. But through a desire to sit down too soon, one may arrest the very march of the human race.

Victor Hugo - Les MisĂ©rables (1862)


Sackerson said...

Mao: "You can kill a peasant by letting him sit down."

Graeme said...

you should try posting this comment on an alarmist site run by folks such as William Connolley or Eli Rabett. It is obvious that the illuminati want to be air-conditioned while the masses broil. And that the whole AGW shebang hinges on reducing the number of people with access to air-conditioning.

Anonymous said...

I remain agnostic on climate change but you are right to point out that a few curly light bulbs and a Prius are there just for show, a feel-good factor. Meaningless. But behind the CC agenda lies a stealthy industry/taxation complex that is plucking us geese whilst doing nothing that will have the slightest long-term effect. By say 2200AD the mantra will be either - 'Oh dear, nothing much happened' or 'Oh dear, what a shame', by which time the hilly bits will have become gated communities.....

Sam Vega said...

Excellent stuff. There is a book's worth in here. One important aspect is the sense of participation and mastery. "I'm a clever sort of person who thinks about the world, and on the basis of that I've made some changes. They were a bit painful at first, but everything should be OK now if all do the same...".

Sackerson said...

Roger: you mean, next time the hillbillies will be the rich ones?

A K Haart said...

Sackers - I think he meant you should kill a peasant if he sits down.

Graeme - I agree, it's all very elitist and essentially Malthusian.

Roger - yes, there will be no long term effect whatever one's views on CO2. It's just another design for the fleecing shears.

Sam - yet it is painfully unconvincing isn't it? That's what rubs me up the wrong way. How can people be so obtuse?