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The Green Road to Tyranny


In all the hysteria about the threat to democracy connected to the bombast of Donald Trump, an arguably greater long-term threat is mounting, though all but ignored, from the well-funded green movement. Increasingly, as Jonathan Blake and Nils Gilman write in their new book, Children of a Modest Star, the much ballyhooed threat of climate change means that power needs to be stripped from nation-states and transferred to “planetary governance” informed by “planetary sapience,” which would then decree how humans use and generate energy.

Such proposals reflect not just extremism as exemplified by the leftist green parties but have support in the corporate establishment in both Europe and North America. Post-national governance has been an intrinsic aspect of corporate liberalism since at least the Club of Rome report, issued in 1972, financed by Italy’s oligarchic Agnelli family. That report pioneered the agenda of central control, austerity, and retrenchment necessary to stave off what was seen as inevitable population-driven mass starvation and social chaos.

Over the past 45 years—despite evidence to the contrary—this approach has grown in influence. Projections of massive shortages of natural resources, disasters and the food shortages continue to be widely accepted uncritically in media, academic, and political circles. All this despite the fact that energy and food are more plentiful than ever and the world has experienced the largest growth in affluence in its history.

The problem facing western Greens

The drive against local control and the nation-state comes naturally to the climate debate. The issue is global by nature, transcending national borders. The centralizing impetus comes at a time when the nation state, at least in the U.S. and Europe, is losing its hold on young people, as well as elites. This creates an opening for Blake and Gilman to suggest that only “planetary institutions,” run by credentialed experts, can address this issue.

Despite such lofty suggestions, western Greens still have a problem. It’s called people. Many middle and working class people in the West do not favor an agenda that means living in smaller dwelling units, enjoying less mobility, more costly home heating, less air-conditioning, and a more austere diet. Robert Jackson, Stanford’s Earth System Science professor, says that Americans should learn to like living on one-quarter of their current energy, essentially turning the clock back to consumption patterns of the fifties.

This pressure is all the more unpalatable because, while high income countries have been reducing their emissions, GHG growth is almost entirely tied to developing countries. China now emits more GHG than Japan, the EU, and North America put together. What the West does is less and less relevant. It is unlikely that developing countries such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and will stop their expanding use of fossil fuels, notably coal. China’s Xi Jinping suggests climate goals “can’t be detached from reality… We can’t toss away what’s feeding us now while what will feed us next is not in our pocket.“

Read the rest of this piece at American Mind.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and and directs the Center for Demographics and Policy there. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Extinction Rebellion protest via Wikimedia CC 4.0 License.


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