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Who set Greece on fire? My country is burning — and democracy will not survive

A resident holds an empty water hose on Evia (ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A resident holds an empty water hose on Evia (ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)


August 10, 2021   6 mins

This summer’s apocalyptic scenes of a burning Mediterranean provided a vivid backdrop to yesterday’s IPPC report on climate change. I’m writing this, drenched in sweat, from my ancestral village in Corfu, where I’ve taken my family for August, not expecting to endure Greece’s worst heatwave in thirty-four years.

While Corfu has so far mercifully avoided the wildfires ravaging the rest of the country, Greece’s second largest island, Evia, has been burning for a full week. The desperate fight to stop the flames encroaching on Athens left Evia to be sacrificed for lack of resources. Now thousands of acres of pine forest have been reduced to ash, and thousands of people have been forced to abandon their homes as the wall of flames reaches right to the seashore, its villagers turned refugees in their own country.

For the first time, this trip back to Greece has hit me with the realisation that climate change isn’t just a notional threat on an ever-shifting horizon: it’s already here, right now. The apocalypse has already arrived.

Wildfires are a perennial threat in the Mediterranean, but the changing climate is exacerbating their effect. It isn’t just that the summers are getting hotter: the winter rains that blanket the forest floor with a leafy undergrowth which dampens the threat of fire are getting weaker. Even farmers in Corfu, usually lashed by heavy rain for half the year, now complain that the seasons are now out of kilter, the fruit trees are dying unless irrigated and the water in the wells is running out. The result is that the forests of the northern Mediterranean — perhaps counterintuitively to Northern Europeans, nearly a third of Greece’s land area is made up of forest — have become tinderboxes, beyond the capacity of the state to manage.

As the IPPC report shows, Southern Europe is drying out while Northern Europe is getting wetter, leading to anomalous and devastating floods like those in Germany and even London this summer. In neighbouring Turkey, much of the country’s forested Aegean coast has been destroyed by fire, even as flash floods pummel the country’s normally dryer east. The Mediterranean climate, punctuated by dramatic changes of season so punctual that over the centuries they could be predicted almost to the day, has become erratic. Europe’s most hospitable and productive landscapes have now become now spiteful and vindictive.

How many decades of human habitation are left for the olive and lemon groves, pine forests and vineyards of the northern Mediterranean? It does not seem fanciful, now, to imagine climate refugees within Europe in the coming years, joining the desperate masses pressing on the continent from outside.

I turn forty at the end of this month. I was ten, in primary school, when both the Soviet Union collapsed and the realisation that global warming was a genuine threat to human civilisation achieved a mass understanding. I remember teachers instructing us about CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer, with propagandistic cartoons like Captain Planet aiming to create a new generation of responsible eco-warriors.

The thirty years since then have been entirely wasted. Instead of the dominant global power taking a meaningful lead on climate change, the world has been held hostage to the vagaries of American domestic politics, as one faction enters into fruitless international policy accords heralded with much fanfare and no effect, and the other withdraws from them with vindictive glee. Simply, we are ruled by unserious people who are unfit to rule. Meanwhile, Western countries such as Britain have achieved massive reductions of carbon emissions by shifting their industrial output to China, which now holds humanity’s fate in its hands and shows no desire to sacrifice its chance of hegemony by lowering its output.

Instead, locked in competition with each other, both the world’s two great global powers will expand their production and consumption, dooming the rest of us to an ever-faster collapse. If there was ever a time to construct a true global commons capable of confronting climate collapse it was then, during the 1990s’ brief End of History. That the trillions of dollars and the vast quantities of natural resources spent on extending and maintaining its imperial hegemony across the furthest corners of the earth would have been better spent on addressing the threat of climate change is an unarguable fact.

Even now the United States military alone emits more carbon than affluent European countries like Sweden or Norway. Every bomb dropped on an illiterate Afghan peasant, every carton of ice cream or air conditioning unit shipped to a desert in the middle of nowhere over the past twenty years of failed warfare represents a gigantic distraction from the threat facing us all, a colossal waste of resources and effort that surely has no parallel in all human history.

Instead of a concerted, World War-like effort to find technological solutions to the coming disaster, we were given an explosion of unnecessary consumer goods, whose assembly underwrote China’s rise to industrial dominance, which floods the earth with plastic crap — the profits of which have enriched a class of oligarchs, the richest people who have ever lived, who waste their fortunes on minutes-long consumer space flights while our home planet becomes unlivable.

Even aside from America’s 1%, the richest of the global rich, the entire world’s richest 1% — which, for clarity’s sake, accounts for only 20 million of America’s nearly 330 million population — is responsible for more than twice as much carbon emissions as the 3.1 billion people who make up the world’s poorest 50%. But not only that, they are responsible for more carbon emissions than the entire population of the EU, one of the richest and most industrialised societies in human history. How strange then, that Davos and the World Economic Forum insist we should all eat insects, own nothing and reduce our individual consumption of plastic straws or flights or car journeys while having nothing of note to say about this grotesque imbalance.

It’s not just the oligarchs to blame, but also their underlings who manufacture consent for the world they have created, and are rewarded with the scraps from their tables. Consider the recent, dispiriting discourse where American neoliberals like Matt Yglesias and Josh Barro have spent days crowing about their higher levels of consumption and possession of consumer appliances than us poor, benighted Europeans.

As an excellent recent book on the Green New Deal observed, the richest 10% of Americans are responsible for 25% of the country’s carbon emissions. The richest 10% of the global population — a group which certainly includes the millionaire Yglesias — is responsible for more than half the world’s carbon output.

Indeed, all it would take for global carbon emissions to drop by a third is for the same global 10% of the population to consume at the same level as the average European like you or me: no doubt an inconvenience for Yglesias and his ilk, but one which would save the lives of millions of people worldwide. Yet instead the world burns and our lifestyles deteriorate so these people can consume more and more. Imagine a world containing One Billion Americans, as Yglesias demands: Earth can’t even afford the amount we have.

By failing to address these obvious imbalances, the Green movement, too, has failed humanity. Instead of embracing technologies like nuclear power that would give humanity breathing space to arrest the coming disaster, the Greens sank into the obscurantism of ultra-liberal social causes and the generalised, solution-free comfort blanket of empty protest.

That the Fukushima crisis, whose even local effect on human health transpired to be massively overstated, allowed Western leaders like Merkel to shutter Germany’s nuclear power plants, as the German Greens demanded, and refire the country’s coal-fired power stations was a disaster of the highest order. Even Britain’s governing party, while flaunting its supposed green credentials ahead of the COP26 climate meeting, which will achieve nothing more than any other climate meeting has, is planning to expand fossil fuel production. No leader of any industrialised nation has shown themselves capable or even willing to face the challenge directly: we will all pay the price.

Given that the most important chance to arrest the coming disaster was wasted under this system, we must view the catastrophe now approaching us as a failure not just of the consumption model that spread unchallenged over the last few vital decades but also fundamentally as a failure of democracy. Indeed, perhaps the coming decades of fire and flood will be democracy’s terminal crisis.

Even as the ghost ideologies of the twentieth century still haunt the Western political imagination decades after their political deaths, new horrors surely await us. As states collapse in the Global South, the Global North will need to achieve full state mobilisation to mitigate the disaster heading towards it: who can say what forms of governance will be summoned into being by the failures of the past few decades? The purported global liberal order which has vastly accelerated this catastrophe will certainly not survive it.

On Sunday, I took my two sons to the hilltop village churchyard where my grandmother was buried this year, and where all her ancestors were buried since they fled the Ottoman invasion of Albania in the 15th century. As we lit an oil lamp and burned incense at our humble family grave plot, I looked around at the green sea of cypress and pine trees and thick olive groves, that were now a threat, a tinderbox-in-waiting like the forests burning on the mainland.

For how many years, I wondered, would my five and one-year old sons be able to live here safely? How many decades has the Mediterranean left to be liveable, for the trees to still bear fruit, before our wells run dry?

Greece is a poor country by European standards, even more so by that of the rich commentators defending the unsustainable status quo threatening its survival. Yet other countries, both in Europe like Greece and those in the Global South, are as rich in meaning to their inhabitants as my ancestral village is to me: how many millions will be forced to uproot themselves from everything they have ever known so that the world’s richest can enrich themselves even further, insulated from the consequences of their consumption?

 


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Aris, thank you for another thoughtful piece. I am sorry for what is happening to your home.
Climate change is indeed worrying. I, however, suggest to you that it’s often a convenient umbrella for other phenomena that people are unwilling to discuss, and which act on a faster time scale than climate change.
I read in the Guardian, for example, that rivers in Nigeria are drying up because of “climate change”. I find this a highly unlikely proposition in the face of the more obvious impact of over-grazing and human habitation within water catchment areas, both practices well known to destroy river systems far faster than slower climate effects. The actual cause is so obvious that it would take the Guardian, or an academic, not to see it.
The population in Nigeria is 200 million now and will be 400 million by 2055. Who will feed the extra 200 million born in the next 25 years? Who will clothe them? Who will educate them? And how many of them will attempt to find a better life in Europe?
It is politically incorrect to point out that the very poor are also drivers of environmental disaster. If you have ever visited Malawi you will be aware that the majority of trees were long ago turned to charcoal. The lake has been almost emptied of fish. And still the population will double in 25 years. Many African countries are net consumers of food, an outcome possible only by massive food subsidies from the West, engaging in highly subsidised and damaging agricultural practices themselves.
The problems you raise are real, but they are not solvable only by convincing the richest among us to consume less.
(Update following some of the comments I’ve received:

  1. The libertarian right attribute to me the motivation of wanting a human-hating one-child tyranny. The left attribute to me racism and a hatred of the poor. For those interested, my solution regarding population is to provide contraception to women who want contraception. It may come as a surprise to some that many women in Africa would prefer to have 1-2 children. When they have more than this it’s usually because they have no control over their own bodies. I worked for a charity providing secret contraception once, and the demand for the pills was overwhelming.
  2. I am *not* saying that rich people should continue to consume as they are. I am merely pointing out that the problem is large and requires everyone, both rich and poor, to act.

)

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago

it is unbridled population growth by people living ‘in a state of nature’ that will be the cause of global instability as they stream north in search of food and security-i would suggest moving to harder to reach places sooner rather than later…….(and not dropping more children into this mess.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

I couldn’t agree more. People forget that population growth is a primary driver of poverty and political instability.
The poverty problem will be exacerbated by the reality that Africans will not be able to replicate the Chinese model of cheap labour in a technological world that is rapidly reducing human involvement.
If this explosive growth of mouths continues migration to the North will also increase. And this will produce one of two outcomes: either Europe will transition towards the culture of those who migrate there, or it will become isolationist and hostile to outsiders.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago

That would be the rational response – but how rational are young, under-educated and frequently fanatical populations guided by greed, resentment and chauvinism? Don’t forget, the advance guard of such massive displacements is always composed of young males, known for the highest levels of violence, crime and brutality – hence their “over representation” in the prison population of any society. And their womenfolk are not likely to calm them down – after all, they haven’t managed it in several centuries. If I may say so, westerners today, of a non-left persuasion, have a tendency to offer points based on two assumptions: one, that the force of reason is supreme; two, that thanks to this supremacy, things have a tendency to “right themselves”. This is by no means always the case. Those columns of African, Afghan and Bengali migrants will not let up until they have stripped our civilisation bare. They have no notion of the incentives which might prompt them to pause or reflect. To them, the west is a compound of treasure trove and brothel, much as Rome must have seemed to its invaders in 410 AD. As for westerners of a left persuasion, they are in charge – despite anything that the electorate can do. When a Tory government gets eighty seats more than all other parties, a well placed mistress can nullify the effect. And the left is so insulated against reality that to point out the dangers of migration, the nature of third world society or the usual effects of testosterone is to exile oneself from their counsels. I deeply misgive that decline is turning, inescapably, into fall.

Karl Schuldes
Karl Schuldes
2 years ago

Are you also a “mouth” or is that just people you could do without?
It isn’t too many people that causes poverty, it is bad government.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Schuldes

God bless you. Love humanity. We need to keep having babies of all races. Screw these evil antihumanists. They are pure evil

Chris D.
Chris D.
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Schuldes

The world is definitely awash in bad government!

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

Those disgusting black bodied Africans ruining it for humanity? Gotta stop them reproducing?

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

But we in the West should be leading by example. Boris Johnson said some time ago something about ever increasing populations were the cause of climate change and world leaders must do something about it. So what does he do? Get’s yet another woman pregnant yet again. Do as I say, not as I do… No leadership there.

Surely if we want others to have fewer children then we too should be having fewer children. And yes, I don’t have any… Not by choice but by nature.

I am fed up being blamed for something that is not my fault. I live in a very old house that was built to last. All my furniture bar my bed is second or even third hand. It is only in the last 6 years that my white goods have needed to be replaced. I drive a second hand car. I have an allotment where I recycle most of my food waste as well as oaoer/cardboard, wood etc. I rarely get on a plane. Most of the time I take public transport.

And yet, I am told all the time that I am part of the problem. Well, you know what, I am not. And I am having no ownership of a problem that I didn’t make.

When everyone else in the UK gets to my standard of living, then maybe we can tell others in the world how to live and stop the climate changes getting any worse. Anything else is patronising and disingenuous

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago

Actually, population growth is a product of poverty, not a cause – as soon as people get richer, they start having fewer babies. The best estimates now suggest world population may actually start to stabilise, if not to actually decline, by as soon as 2030

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

It is not just African countries that show symptoms of over-population. We have concreted over our land with houses, roads and carports all reflecting heat and causing floods when there is excessive rain

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

If only we could get rid of all these nasty disgusting human bodies we would all be better off

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

You seem to regret both the existence of the poor; and the fact that they have to eat.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Do you think oncologists approve of cancer and that military historians approve of war? Why does observing something to be true come across to you as approval of the same?

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

Because environmental damage is being caused more by the Rich of the World than the Poor, lectures to Africans about over-breeding should wait until we in the West live far more frugally than we presently do.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Regret is the existence of a conjunction after a semicolon with no real to emphasise a pause* given the second clause is dependent on the original verb.
* And it should be noted that – excepting such rare cases where a disjunction is especially severe – the rupture would be better served by a comma.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Yes. This is true. The public schools have done this. They have raised the young to hate humanity. This is the result.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Boylon
Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
2 years ago

Absolutely correct until humanity confronts over population the problem will only get worse climate change is only a bi product of over population

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

What about the world’s excessive populations of cars, aeroplanes and burger bars ?

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Tony I agree with you here, my point is that the problem is *also* population and we have to tackle all causes and not just ones that appear superficially moral.

With regards to population the solution is straightforward and inexpensive and improves human rights: provide contraception to women who want it it but can’t get it. I worked once with a charity providing this and the demand was overwhelming.

You may be surprised to discover that women in much of Africa don’t choose to become pregnant at 14 and then give birth to 8 children thereafter and remain crushed by poverty as a result. Many simply do not have control over their own bodies. Clandestine access to contraception in fact empowers them.

The trouble is that neither the right nor the left think this through. The left imagine I hate black people and poor people and the libertarian right imagine I must some how be an antihuman leftie pushing for a one child tyranny.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
2 years ago

I agree. The issue is too many people (including us). You see it here and all over the world. But over population is not on the agenda. No politician would dare face up to the problem as the solutions are unlikely to be palatable.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

Overpopulation is definitely not a European problem.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

Green politics just gets politicians off the hook. Angela Merkel can blame the floods in Germany on global warming rather than her own neglect of German flood defences.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Angela Merkel’s reign is getting long-in-the-tooth and she’s been making some gawd-awful decisions, re: closing nuclear facilities, the pipeline with Russia, inviting millions of migrants to invade Germany along the ‘Wer Schlaffen Das’ line – seems like Germans vote for their own form of chaos & decline?!

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

Britain is quite close to starvation. Half its food is imported (what happens if there’s a financial or economic crisis ?), half is home produced – i.e. is dependent on our increasingly wonky climate.

This has come about for various reasons – not least the feckless, entitled greed that is typical of the Rich of the world.

For example the constant British determination to destroy our agricultural land.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago

The Murray River in Australia has been in trouble for years, yet is still relied on for supplying water to South Australia’s massive agricultural and wine industries, and a huge pipeline runs 100 km almost to Adelaide. Then there’s the Aral Sea.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

Another meaningless article that is based on the belief that we are causing climate change through the release of CO2. There is no physics that supports this nonsense, no empirical evidence to support it, ridiculous experiments said to prove it that are no more than magic tricks, and all past temperature records that show it was warmer 100 years ago than now. A mass psychosis had taken over the minds of people who believe in an human caused climate crisis and it is a descent into kakocracy led by politicians who are supposed to protect us.
The fires are not started by higher temperatures and this is not discussed. Higher temperatures will dry out dead material but they cannot start a fire. Paper burns at Fahrenheit 451, which everybody could be expected to know and we are a long way from that temperature. Nature could only start a fire through lightning strikes, otherwise they are started by us.
The problem is due to poor forest management and there is a reference to lack of resources to fight the fires, but it starts with lack of resources to manage the forests. The Greek problems are due to government failure and pandering to the nonsense of environmentalists and governments “scientists”, better described as idiots believing liars.
All the fires are on public land and this confirms what I have said. Private forests are managed for profit and their owners don’t let their assets turn to ash. Imagine if Drax power station was told there were no wood pellets for it because the forests had burned down.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Source for the temperature being higher 100 years ago. The IPPC says that the rise since the industrial era has been 1.0 to 1.5, if I recall correctly.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

The IPCC is fully infiltrated by Marxists. Its output is entirely lies and half truths. It deserves as much respect as the Moonies, for the same reason.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Ok. May be true, May not be true. But where’s the counter proof needed from other sources? I didn’t think anybody was ever denying warning, some people deny anthropogenic warming and others some of the extreme outcomes in the future, in particular with regard to sea level rises.

I think there’s some exaggeration on the future for sure, or the extreme models are taken as being the norm. Nevertheless I see nothing credible that says temperatures were hotter 100 years ago.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Do you dispute Aris’ statement that Greece is having the hottest weather for 34 years? What does that tell you about 34 years ago? Why didn’t he say “100 years ago” or “ever”?

The clue is in Jon Kanef’s response about the heatwave of 1987.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

Counter proof from other sources is often censored or ignored. Check out, for instance, this story of Australian academic Professor Peter Ride, fired for presenting positive account of health of Great Barrier Reef.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-23/peter-ridd-takes-unfair-dismissal-claim-to-high-court/100235258

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Ah, classic! You are challenged on your evidence free assertions and resort to ludicrous conspiracy thinking. And even if they were, why exactly materialist Marxists who historically supported industrialisation and had no particular regard for the environment should now reverse their position you don’t bother to explain.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

Read The Grapes of Wrath and then tell me that the temperatures are higher now than in the 1930’s.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

I have read the grapes of wrath. Also having done that, albeit years ago, I would still say the temperature is higher now. The dust bowl seems to have been caused mostly by bad soil management.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago

It was really very hot, no rain and you can look at graphs that the temperature in that part of the U.S were much higher.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

1930s: The dust bowl seems to have been caused mostly by bad soil management.
2020s: forest fires = global warming, nothing to do with bad forest management
The entire “Global warming” argument summed up very nicely

Trevor Chenery
Trevor Chenery
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The 2020/21’s forest fires in North America and Australia have almost everything to do with poor/no forest management of publicly-owned forests.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Trevor Chenery

One of the convenient side effects of the “Everything is Global Warming” theory: politicians in one party state California escape all accountability for their disastrous performance at forest management, amongst other things.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Not to mention that quite a few Californian fires were arson…

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

No, no. Everything is Racism and White Supremacy, including Global Warming.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Trevor Chenery

Yeah, nothing to do with rising temperatures !

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Where is your evidence that forest management has got worse ?

Chris D.
Chris D.
2 years ago

Yep. They should have seen the dust bowl coming. The same had happened before in the Los Angeles River basin. They diverted too much water for agriculture, overgrazed it, and a heat-wave combined with wildfires in the late 1800s turned it into the semi-arid land we know today. The region was an Eden before that. Read B. Gumprecht’s book “The Los Angeles River.”

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

So true. My father in law was a little boy during that time in the Mid West and still talked about it in his old age.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stephanie Surface
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

It’s possible that the average world temperature has increased by 1.5° since, say,1800, but no certainty as to why. However, I can well believe that the colossal increase in the discharge of CO2 has had and will have a bad effect, and since the harm would be immense and remedy impossible, so it should never be risked.
In my opinion, the first step is to stop the increase in world population, which has many other harmful effects, too (including congested road traffic). Secondly, fiddling with UK policies is marginal, and apt to be token; there’s no point in forcing low mpg if cars are then stuck in congested traffic. (I.e., building new roads could possibly be a good policy.)
Thirdly, if the EU is so saintly, why is it silent on the significant volume of coal burnt by Germany, Poland, and Greece?
Lastly, if the UK and similar countries wish to make a difference, they should use their buying power to force the USA, China, India Brazil and Indonesia to reduce CO2 emissions, or at least limit them in some cases.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

You & I and the world are never going to stop reproduction. But we can develop geoengineering tools. Technology has allowed continued population growth except in advanced nations where the rich avoid children. Some may starve to correct imbalance but the remainder can be fed.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

In the absence of technology, they NEED offspring.

You have no evidence whatever for saying third world people are feckless.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Build more roads ?

We need desperately to build more housing – and more forests – while preserving our agricultural land.

There is a human right – or at least, desperate need – to eat and find shelter.

There is no right or need to drive cars.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

OK, maybe yes, maybe no. But any argument to reduce our ‘consumption’ of the world resources and our feeds an awakening that we need to respect the environment can only be a good thing no?

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

There is no physics that supports this nonsense” There is actually a lot of physics to support it. What there isn’t a lot of, is proof that the solutions posed by politicians would solve this problem. I find it frustrating that the debate has got so primitive that those who disagree with the politics feel it necessary to throw stones at physics they don’t understand.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

Yes the nonsensical debates between various tribes of idiots distracts from actual solutions or taking evasive action. Lawrence Krauss, certainly no friend of progressive pieties, has written a good book on the physics involve that neither panders nor mystifies. Those countries led by the hardnosed and far-sighted are sure to dominate after the ash settles. Presuming the nuclear winter isn’t too harsh, of course.
I note in the Netherlands they are already upgrading their system of dams and polders to face up to rising sea levels. In Russia they are already seeing the world beyond the crisis and seeking to stake our resource claims as the Artic opens up. China is already putting its talons down in the form of neo-castra in various resource rich regions of the world. In the UK we still seem to think recycling has something useful to contribute.
The best way to work out what is happening is not to listen to the babbling of journalists and politicians, but to look at what people with skin-in-the-game and with a track record of getting things right are doing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago

The physics is that the greenhouse effect raises the earth’s temperature by about 20 degrees above what Stefan’s law would give without it. However, there are good reasons to think the effect saturates at much lower concentrations of CO2 and H2O than currently persist. One of the reasons is convection.
Without convection, the vertical temperature gradient (“lapse rate”) needed to transport enough heat from the surface to maintain balance would be much greater than it is (and the surface much warmer). In fact convection and gas thermodynamics alone (i.e. treating infrared transport as negligible) is enough to explain the observed lapse rate in the troposphere. All that further slowing in the I.R. mode would do is pass more heat to the convection mode.
Bottom line: it remains to be proven that adding more CO2 will cause any warming. Historical correlation studies might suggest a human component, but they cannot distinguish between CO2 and a myriad of other things that have accompanied the order of magnitude increase in human population that has occurred in the last two centuries.
=====================
P.S. I wonder if the black death, which halved the population of Eurasia in the 14th century, was the reason for the prolonged cooling, known as “the little ice age”?

Last edited 2 years ago by David Barnett
Trevor Chenery
Trevor Chenery
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

It has been established that poor – more often than not no – management of large, publicly-owned forest areas in North America, Australia and now Turkey is almost always a significant factor in the underlying reasons for cause and spread of the huge fires.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

This is rather strange. You recieve up votes for calling out this fraud but the majority above fully support antihumanism and population reduction. Crazy.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

I’ll say to you what a salesman once said to me in Cordings, Piccadilly, as I tried on a suit. I suppose I looked worried or upset, weighed down by life. From nowhere, he said:

“You know, sir. It will be all right. It really will.”

Honestly, I fairly choked up. That he’d spotted my distress, that he’d taken a moment to say those words, risking a rebuff. It was the paternal side of man, I suppose. It gave me hope for us all.

…and it will be, you know. Humans are clever, resourceful and hard-working. We’ll solve the worst problems and live with the things we can’t change. In the meantime, pushing for less waste will create entirely new technologies and make others more efficient. That’s good news. Life trends upwards, sir. It will be all right.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
Claire Dunnage
Claire Dunnage
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I agree. The world slowly shifts in the right direction. Different factions argue and fight with each other, people panic and catastrophize, but life, nevertheless, improves. I think of the chart of poverty Hans Rosling, presented that shows how the world has moved from poverty to greater wealth over the years. And his brilliant book, Factfullness, which I highly recommend to gain perspective.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire Dunnage

I oscillate between Dr Pangloss (all for the best in the best of all possible worlds) and Private Frazer (we’re all doomed). Today I identify as Private Frazer.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“Instead of the dominant global power taking a meaningful lead on climate change, the world has been held hostage to the vagaries of American domestic politics,”

It is a bit more than American Domestic policies. This is Greece and water:

Greece is 31st in top 50 countries with severe water stress. Water needs are mainly covered by groundwater abstracted from the aquifers via numerous wells and boreholes (approximately 300,000 for the whole of Greece). As a result, a negative water balance is established in the coastal aquifer systems triggering sea water intrusion “

America is not using your ground water faster than it charges, Greece is as bad as everyone else.

To slow the global economy by 10% to try to do green things – this would crash it. The global system is based on growth, negative growth will trigger a global depression bigger than ever seen. This is why everyone is continuing as they are.

“What is owned by everyone is owned by no one”. is the situation – take sea fishing, only by giving all countries their own 200 miles to control have the global fish stocks been saved from total loss – and even then the communal fish stocks in a country have to endlessly be quota -ed to the individual fishermen, or they would be decimated. This is the problem. The way Greek Ground Water is going down as everyone bores a well, this is how the world is. You can complain, but not much can be done.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

the economy grows through the invention of new thing, these new things can reduce the ‘consumption’ of the world resources. The economy does not grow by getting more things ‘out of the ground’…

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

By the way, the amount of concrete, which produces vast amounts of Co2 in producing, puts a huge amount against windmills – this is not talked of, as does the maintenance and manufacture of the machines.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

EVs sound a great idea to those with little concept of the engineering of batteries and the physics of energy.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Nor the incredible amount of new mines that are needed in your backyard. The materials don’t just appear like magic.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It should be remembered that evolution is a solution for short-term local maxima. There seems no reason why humans should have any more foresight than any other species, except that thin layer of consciousness that we have has enabled us to delude ourselves.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Greece, along with other southern European countries, has a birthrate of around 1.3, well below replacement rate. Almost all other European countries, as well as the Big Bad USA have birth rates well below replacement level
Across the water, Egypt has a BR of 3.3. Further down, Nigeria has 5.5.
Even India and Bangladesh are hovering just above or below replacement. Pakistan with its feudal structure is well above.
With a few anomalies, (e.g. Israel) as countries get wealthier, their birth eventually rate drops.
I am suggesting that it follows from available data, (without writing a feature length article) that impoverishing people with destructive energy policies will in turn destroy the environment.
Yet the only significant actions we see from 30 years of climate politics are:

  1. Penalise hydrocarbon use and agriculture
  2. Funnel public cash to wind farms and solar

These are doomed to fail and they know it. Worse, they are destructive. Never mind the waffle – Xi excepted, perhaps – these politicians will not be in power in 2030, let alone 2040, to confront the ruin they are causing, and they know it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago

No reason why wind and solar won’t work, they do need a baseline nuclear backup though.

Chris Vautier
Chris Vautier
2 years ago

That is a reasonable comment, but there is a problem.
The greens/eco luvvies don’t like nuclear and most countries are decommissioning their nuclear plants. Without consistent baseload power, solar and wind are about as much use as a chocolate teapot. we have had many nights here in the UK where the wind has dropped right out in 2021. where will the power come from?
Whilst a warming world might create some issues that require adaptation, the real problems will be foisted on the world by the political kneejerks that are ill-considered and mostly just plain wrong.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Wind and solar work, in their low-energy-density, intermittent and non-dispatchable way. In their land-hogging, bird-killing way.
They’re not suitable for first-priority feed into national grids, as is demanded by current legislation, hence the demands from wind and solar businesses that we should spend billions re-designing and re-building the grid to suit their business interests.
I guess you meant “baseload” rather than “baseline”.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Uranium stocks have gone up 100% in a year – I bought a few thousand of them then, as much of the world agrees. But it is a risk as one generator going bad and the uranium may be set back for decades.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

Exactly so.
We also need to invest in Thorium type reactors where Beijing has made considerable progress. Strange to say there was once a time when Britain was a research leader in molten salt reactors in the 70s and 80s – a key precursor to such a technology – until ignorance and superstition put paid to our leads in nuclear technology.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Rickover stifled Los Alamos research into alternate fueled reactors long ago, but designs are evolving. Those small Thorium fueled devices have promise for neighborhood feeds that obsolete central plants. We need the public onboard and the politics to get out of the way.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

Oh, please. Climates change. For example, the 1930’s were hot; the United States witnessed four times the volume of forest fires than in the present. Then climates generally cooled from 1940 to 1980. Then they warmed from 1980 to 2000. You can tie these ups and downs to year-on-year changes in a trace gas?
Meanwhile, the concentration of that trace gas remains close to the /lowest/ levels it attained over the last 2 million years …. Think about that. If anything is anomalous, it’s the relatively low concentration of CO2.
And what is wrong with higher CO2 content? It does make a discernible difference — no denying that. That difference manifests itself mostly as the greening of the planet. There is more vegetation.
That includes more trees. Maybe the bit about “more trees” contributes to forest fires, because there’s simply more stuff to burn. But, forests are more productive. Agriculture is more productive. Phytoplankton are more productive. And, get this: vegetation becomes more resistant to drought. Vegetation requires less water to breathe in air and absorb CO2.
Please do your homework.

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago

I should like to echo your last remark about increased CO2 improving drought resistance. That might not be too important for England, but in the semi-arid regions it can mean the difference between viable food production and starvation. CO2 is not “pollution”. CO2 is a scarce resource.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago

“ For the first time, this trip back to Greece has hit me with the realisation that climate change isn’t just a notional threat on an ever-shifting horizon: it’s already here, right now. The apocalypse has already arrived.”

Nobel prize winner, Professor William Dawbney Nordhaus, estimates that the economic costs of climate change, even in the worst case scenario, will amount to around a 4% reduction to a projected growth of 300% by the end of the Century. Not insignificant but also not the apocalypse. As is so often the case; it’s the panic response, rather than actual crisis, which cause the most harm.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matthew Powell
Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

But the response hasn’t been panicky !

It’s been dilatory to the point of being non-existent.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I’ll use different adjectives; it may not be panicky in countries such as ours, but tends to be ill-considered and superficial, to appease the campaigners.As a result, much of it will prove ineffective, and dangerous to the economy.
Meanwhile, I see little effective change in the ‘developing’ countries; merely more and more people, more and more power stations, cars, air-conditioning, and pollution.

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

The point is that the response being demanded is panicky. Also, such measures as have been implemented in the name of “green” have already harmed the poor disproportionately. The proposed cures are very definitely worse than the purported disease. Only comfortable armchair green warriors would even countenance them but for the incessant alarmist propaganda.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

All for political control. But it seems most of the world isn’t buying the Biden agenda. Talk is cheap action, not so much.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Then improve the responses; but don’t pretend that responses aren’t needed or that the disease is only “purported.”

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

I was wondering about how weather was during the peak of Greek civilisation and this is what I found:
Around 500 BC: warm peak (initiation of Greek civilisation during a period of rising temperatures starting in 700 BC)
Around 200 BC: cold peak
Also, if I understand correctly, the Roman empire flourished when the weather was warmer than what it today

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It was also warmer 100 years ago than today.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

I’m pretty dubious about that. Do you have a source?

David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The medieval warming between 1000 and 1340 was also a time of great prosperity.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

An impassioned piece by Aris Roussinos. He always writes well.
I’ll avoid the discussion of whether the climate change we’re experiencing is primarily man-made or if it’s primarily a natural fluctuation in climate. The fact the IPPC says it’s man-made climate change doesn’t sway me because I don’t have faith in the objectivity of that organization. I will certainly agree that, even ignoring the recent extremes in climate, there are strong arguments for a reduction in consumerism, consumption, and pollution of our environment.
Whether climate change is natural or man-made we will have to adjust our lifestyles globally, and there’s the challenge. How do we persuade the Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Russians, etc to agree on hard goals for reducing environmental pollution? As the author notes, America would sooner spend trillions on propping up its current hegemony, and China would rather spend trillions opposing the Americans to ensure their own ascendancy.
I suspect the war against climate change is not the ultimate test of democracy; it’s the ultimate test of human nature.

John K
John K
2 years ago

Anecdote:
I was in Athens during the heatwave of July 1987 when temperatures reached 49 degrees Celsius and over 1,000 elderly people died from the heat, mainly as few had air conditioning. A/C has changed Greece the “liveability” of the country, and others, significantly since then.
But development always has consequences. World population has increase from 5.9 to 7.8 billion in the intervening years
ps there were major wildfires then too.

Simon Hodgson
Simon Hodgson
2 years ago

The richest amongst us must set an example, not lecture everyone else to do as I say not as I do. Unfortunately they do not and clearly cannot see an issue with this.
The examples are endless the COP26 conference and attendance, the G7 Conference and attendance, The Sussexes lecturing, Emma Thompson flying in for a Extinction Protest. Merkel rushing to close down Nuclear Plant and replacing it with coal.
UK Government Grandstanding on how well it has performed when all that has happened is export of production to the other side of the world.
Consumer products sold at prices so low they are treated as disposable.
Treating the masses with contempt is not helping to solve such issues.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Hodgson

Concerning your comment as to export of industrial production; note the opposition to the opening of a mine in the UK for coal for steel production. Are they proposing that the world stop making steel? Are they going to protest outside Chinese steel producers? Why didn’t journalists interrupt Joe Kerry to point out that the mine isn’t for ‘fossil fuel’? They’re quick enough to interrupt our own politicians rudely.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
2 years ago

Who set Greece on fire? Why America of course! America is responsible for all bad things!
This from the man who, during the live “after COVID” discussion, said he was happy about where we are at now because COVID undermined American hegemony and proved the superiority of the Chinese governmental model. Tell that to the million Uighurs in concentration camps.
I understand the need for “balance” within UnHerd, but why not just hire Noam Chomsky?

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
2 years ago

I’m not disputing that we are living through climate change. However, I dispute the claim that that’s the main reason you have fires in Greece and Turkey. I’m Portuguese, we might have the dubious honor to have the biggest forest fires in Europe. We normally are on the top year after year. Portugal doesn’t have a Mediterranean coast but we have a similar climate and temperament. 60 years ago 2/3 of the population were farmers, the majority were subsistence farmers, a highly ineffective way to produce food and earn a living. We had up until then and for centuries hundreds of thousands of busy bodies that cleared the bushes and collected firewood. A lot of that material was used for the “beds” of domestic animals. And let’s not forged all the goats, pigs and sheep that kept the fields clean. That meant that most of Portugal and Spain had very little to catch fire. The forest areas were limited. My guess is that Greece and Turkey were similar. After the WWII things started to change. People moved to the big if urban centres, the new generations wanted a better life for themselves and were no longer illeterate. Millions of Portuguese moved to France, Germany, US, Canada, Venezuela, and to the big urban centres of Lisbon and Porto. Does that story ring a bell? As a result the countryside was depopulated. We have villages that had the last birth 40 years ago! Our governments promoted forestry. So… One of the warmest, driest (and surprise surprise, rainiest) countries in Europe was covered with pine-trees and Eucaliptus. Are pine-trees the best option for Portugal and Greece? Probably not but you can get a revenue from it in 15 to 20 years and oak species(more fire resistant) take 50 years to turn a profit, if you facture the frequency of fires, you plant pines or eucalyptus that are even faster growing. Are Greeks and Turks still heating their homes and cooking using the firewood they collect in the fields? Are Greek and Turks still doing subsistence farming? How much does it cost to clear a field of all the highly combustible shrubs? Can the small Greek farmer afford it? What’s the percentage of land that was abandoned? How difficult is it to manage a forest in places like Portugal and Greece that aren’t flat and are full of muntains and valleys? Were are the millions of goats and sheeps that use to mantain all the combustibles under check? In the end it’s our fault Aris, you and me. We descend from farmers that used to keep the fires at bay and we don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t, my father comes from a place that seems entirely made of granite and that burns every 10 years, I don’t want to be a Shepard like my great great grandfather and my mum comes from Madeira, a very nice place for holidays but a miserable place to make a living up and down the mountains breaking your back to grow corn or sugar cane. I chose global warming over subsistence farming every day.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jorge Espinha
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jorge Espinha

Some great perspective thanks Jorge !

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
2 years ago

I think hardly anybody denies that the world is getting warmer. In fact it increased 1.07C since 1850, which is btw.an artificial date by itself. So far the models, the IPCC used, proved largely exaggerated. Even Gavin Schmidt from NASA GISS, at one point said, that most models were “insanely scary and wrong”. Nevertheless the new models predict temperature increase of 3C, if CO2 will be doubled. Curiously enough the new graphs IPCC came up with, left out the the medival warming period (900-1200).In the IPCC’s graphic of the last 2000 years, the curve shows more of a downward trend until 1850, then a rapid increase till today, creating a new hockey-stick. Many scientific reports, published before, show that the temperatures in the Middle Ages were as warm as today. Even the IPCC report of 2013 still reports, that in many regions the temperatures were at least as warm as today. Also the period from 6500-8500 (latest document) is published as a cold period, but again many scientific papers show that temperatures were actually 3C warmer than they are today. Now the latest IPCC report blames every heat wave, floods and draughts on the recent Climate Change. Recently the death toll of the huge floods in Germany were indeed man-made, because no precautions were taken to build proper drainages and also warning systems totally failed.The environmental politician in charge for that Region is from the Green Party…. On old houses in some of the flooded towns, there are markings of former floods from the 14th to the 18th century, many of them were worse. I assume that the recent terrible fires were also in part, that people are living in dry wooded areas, where fire could start easily, the same as we see every year in California.
Last but not least, at the end of yesterday’s published report, there is no mentioning which part the sun might have in global warming. In one graphic it appears at 0. Strange because in the recent Copernicus-Programs scientists measured the sunshine and the cloud covering in Europe from satellite pictures. The authors of that report claim that because of a lesser cloud cover, there was an increase of sunshine of about 200 hours a year between Januar and May in the last 40 years. The same tendency is reported in other parts of the world. The scientific literature describes it as “cloud thinning”. So far scientists don’t know if this is a natural occurrence or produced by some kind of man-made pollution. But there is no word of it in the report’s summery. I always wondered , why there is so little information in the IPCC reports of our heat source, the sun, and of its major role in Climate Changes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Stephanie Surface
Neil MacInnes
Neil MacInnes
2 years ago

The only thing that will combat climate change is technology.
Technological change is our only hope.
As has been ably demonstrated over the last several decades 8 billion people in around 200 countries have absolutely no chance of working together.
This article demonstrates the problem precisely – it’s somebody else’s fault and I/we can’t/won’t do anything unless other people with larger carbon footprints do it first.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

It’s terrible indeed how the past just keeps getting colder.

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

and the joke is, cold is still killing twice as many people as heat does, per annum, globally

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

The author needs to do some more reading of ancient Greek civilization. We know for certain there have been century long natural (pre-industrial) droughts – even to such a degree that drought may have ended the 1st Greek civilization.
https://www.livescience.com/38893-drought-caused-ancient-mediterranean-collapse.html

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

How long will Aris bang the warming drum? In Rome in 1980 it hit 50c several days running. Neighbours went door to door to check the old and young hadn’t got heatstroke. Warming is a massive distraction from other attacks on the Earth like toxic waste, nitrates, polinator population collapse and other species removals. Like playing Jenga with a biosphere. All these can be measured and modelled in a rigorous way that is simply not possible with climate. Meanwhile farmers in Granada continue to plant new almond, fig and olive trees. Most are unaware their families have done this through many a predicted apocalypse. They still have faith these trees will fruit within 10-20 years dependent on weather. I’d take their predictions over journalists or post-modern “scientists” any day. The issue of US and soon Chinese hegemony and over-consumption is distinct but linked to that of environmental harm. Clearly US is producing less pollution going ahead as regulation and technology clean up the acts in business, the home etc. (Not in the military or public sector) China will take longer to come round. As both USA and China want to sell things its not in their business interests to kill off their consumer base. Therefore they have an imperative to improve their environmental performance whether or not warmism is correct. Africa has 25 new coal fired power stations on order to run before 2029 and another 50 planned by 2039. So instead of simply bashing successful economies like China and US we would need to make all other economies follow suit. OR, cull about 70% of humanity which seems to be the green/left/liberal response to anything from wolf-whistling to Covid.

Last edited 2 years ago by mike otter
No Wei
No Wei
2 years ago

Who set Greece on fire?My country is burning — and democracy will not surviveClickbait headline, and no attempt to justify or discuss “democracy will not survive”
No hint that it is yet another tedious article of the type which try to put the blame on Climate Change for forest fires / jerry built Miami condos collapsing / rivers flooding / the Great Barrier Reef recovering / whatever.
There is a weary predictability to the lack of any serious analysis of China, as the #1 country for: CO2 emissions (30%, compared to UK 1%), oil imports, coal imports, plastics production, steel production, cement production, and a host of other dubious world-leading roles.
However, the author comes across as much more interested in complaining about the problems he sees than in solving them.
Who set Greece on fire? Almost certainly, Greeks did!

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  No Wei

“Western countries such as Britain have achieved massive reductions of carbon emissions by shifting their industrial output to China, which now holds humanity’s fate in its hands and shows no desire to sacrifice its chance of hegemony by lowering its output…we were given an explosion of unnecessary consumer goods, whose assembly underwrote China’s rise to industrial dominance, which floods the earth with plastic crap”

What article were you reading?

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago

AGW/CC is by orders of magnitude the biggest and most grotesque scam in history. “Man-made climate change” is nothing less than a secular religion. It has its symbols (Mann’s hockey stick) and saints (Thunberg). The hockey stick is now universally acknowledged to be an arrant fraud. But it served a symbolic purpose. Thunberg is a schoolgirl who knows very little about anything. But she too serves a purpose. Every single AGW model has failed, and every single AGW prediction capable of being assessed has proved false. Hence all such predictions now lie in the realm of multi-decades, thus rendering them unfalsifiable within our lifetimes. Oh, and just to pre-empt the lie that the “science is settled”, see a fairly short book published in 2015 called “Climate Change: The Facts”, containing essays by a dozen and a half credentialed scientists, including one by a man called Christopher Essex who, in a 10-page contribution, rhetorically asks who is qualified to decide who is qualified if we are to accept the argument from authority, and says we all really need to be thinking about this for ourselves. Who is Mr Essex? Oh, only the then-Chair of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Climate of the World Federation of Scientists, among other things. The argument that the science is settled is a lie, as too has always been the “97% of scientists agree” claim. And – last point for now – I’m old enough to remember when the AGW zealots at the BBC, Guardian, etc would respond to anyone pointing to a rainy day in summer with “There’s a difference between weather and climate, duh!”. Not any more – now that it suits them, every weather event outside some arbitrary and undefined “norm” constitutes yet more evidence of AGW. It is just not true.

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher Gelber
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago

This comments section doesn’t seem to like criticisms of the “capitalist oligarchs”, but supports criticism of the elites. Ari was clear to blame the top 10% and not the average European in the piece however. The only reference to the “foolishness and greed of the West” is your comment.

The U.K. has done pretty well on carbon reduction and is set to do better, it could also be a big supplier of wind power. It’s odd that this isn’t well known.

John Thorogood
John Thorogood
2 years ago

Only done well on carbon reduction by destroying our own industries and exporting emissions to China etc

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
2 years ago

Doomers think our climate was in perpetual stasis until fossil fuels were discovered, and the West—with our ability to observe, take empirical measurements, and disseminate news and information globally—colonized the world. As if floods and wildfires did not ravage massive swaths of land before we came along with our sensationalist claims like “yeah, but they’re like, more frequent now.”
As hard as we try, we just don’t know how many wildfires there were between, say, 500-600 AD in what we now call Oregon. But there most certainly were many. And they most certainly weren’t caused by fossil fuels.
It’s ironic that the same people who decry colonization are the ones leading the charge to colonize history and retrofit it with modern doom science, that since the 60s has continued to predict apocalypse, and has continued to be wrong every single time.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jordan Flower

Many years ago, floods in China were infamous for the deaths they caused.

William Cameron
William Cameron
2 years ago

In 1900 world population was 2bn. In 1960 is was 3bn. Today it is 8bn. That is why the climate is changing.

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

Hmmmmm. In the USA where similar claims about global warming affecting wildfires, the area burned has reduced dramatically in the past century.
try this
https://youtu.be/bc9UATYblo0

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
2 years ago

The earth tilting on its axis ever so slightly all the time has always changed the topography on it. For example, 15,000 years ago the Sahara desert was savannah. This we cannot change.
However, the nub of the problem is exactly where the author says it is – the top 10% of consumers grabbing far more than their fair share to the detriment of the other 90%. A further problem is the destruction of the environment in terms of both depleted resources and unimaginable pollution. Although this will have a massive impact on the quality of life of future generations, it is unconnected to climate change as it is truly man-made while climate change is not.
Today we have the technology to change all this but we lack the leadership. The politicians are the ignorant pawns of the obscenely wealthy and selfish 1% of elites who are, as the author says, only to eager to shamefully gather up the crumbs that fall under their tables.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peta Seel
David Barnett
David Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Peta Seel

I think the Sahara was not yet sand as recently as 8,000 years ago.

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

And the North Sea was dry land

Satyam Nagwekar
Satyam Nagwekar
2 years ago

Broadly speaking, the concerns raised by Aris are relatable. From a perspective of finding solutions, however, he comes across as a bit uninformed. I am no expert but there’s no simple answer to this problem and, therefore, the solutions proffered sound naïve. On the flipside, as a galvanising opinion piece, this article does indeed get the job done.

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago

When the Southern Hemisphere is unusually cool, as it is right now, you will get heatwaves and dry weather in Southern Europe.

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago

I find the discussion way more interesting than the article. One observation is that “Lightening or people light fires.” Why they should purposefully do that in Greece at this time is reported by Max Mahdalik (Kronen News)(Austria), resident among the Greek land owners living adjacent to the fires. The confluence of the money trail and/or the apocalypse trail may come together along the fire-lit ridges of Greece. Aris omits discussion of the locals who have been resisting the construction of windmills in their pristine environment. They maybe no match for the EU Windmill subsidy people clearing the ridges for wind farm development. Not a first in this part of the developed world. Windmills are apparently helpful in Italy for laundering money and for extending Mafia interests. So much so that the frequency of one in three fires of dubious origin have been enough for legislators to declare, “No windmills permitted within 15 years of having burnt down the trees along the ridges!”
And then there are the carbon capture rascals? We can probably cope with one or two degrees global warming. Coping with people reactions to that prospect seems seriously difficult and something else altogether.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

I reject the assertion that the past thirty years have been “entirely wasted”. Has the developed world done nothing at all toward reducing its carbon emissions? And have we not also seen over a billion people worldwide raised up out of extreme poverty during this same period? It’s very easy to rail against the superrich and to accuse governments of inaction, but the fact is, we live in an extremely complex system, where any change, however sensible, is bound to have knock-on effects.Greta T has posed for Vogue as part of her campaign against fast fashion. But can she suggest an alternative livelihood for those who will be without a job and an income when the clothing factories of Southeast Asia close? Electric mobility might look good on paper, but in the long run is bound to increase the demand for power far beyond what can be supplied by renewables. Wind turbines destroy landscapes and birds and solar arrays gobble up land that we should be using to grow food. Widespread veganism would destroy traditional ways of life on a massive scale (Alpine farming, for example) and almost certainly lead to mass malnutrition and poor health. I could go on…

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago

The responsibility is not necessarily with the governments either. It starts with the INDIVIDUAL . The question on everyone’s mind should be “what am I doing to minimise my impact on climate change?”
When greed, callousness and consumption rule our daily lives, development and economy are all about acquiring pleasure and wealth & “take take take” is the only chant we have been taught then something else will have to give.
In this case it is the climate.
It’s up to each INDIVIDUAL to make that change, from there it will take momentum automatically.
It’s not the fault of the 3rd world. The west has been the role model of how to get rich and earn respect . Just look how “rags to riches” stories are lauded. This philosophy is ruinous for the world at large. Everyone is encouraged to aspire according to western standards. But one philosophy does not fit all. In fact it is ruinous for the west also.
But what can be done?
In the short term – Accept, adjust, learn & adapt. That is the definition of development and growth. Not of the economy but the of the human. Just change your habits quickly. Each & everyone of us. Accept that there will be economic readjustment. It’s harsh but accept that not everyone can be saved ( western style). Accept that while everyone is equal it cannot realistically be practiced. It’s good a concept only.
This is just a start. We might have to dig deep to find the adjustment.

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago

From Al Gore to Obama and beyond, alarmists have tried to convince us that “the science is settled”. It really, really isn’t. It behoves all of us to understand the truth and not simply accept at face value all the trash which is currently dished out about climate change.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago

Aris, as a Greek you will be aware that many of the fires were caused by arson, possibly by criminal gangs. It is an annual phenomenon to get around the legal restriction on building on forested land. The situation is now so bad that the Government is going to make the crime a felony. Also, the Government has cut the budget for firefighting by billions of Euro over the past decade. Climate change has already been used as an excuse by your Prime Minister so don’t fall for it.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Bell
Robin Bury
Robin Bury
2 years ago
  1. Well so the fires in Greece are caused by global warming? Maybe the cause is lack of protection as the trees are not for commercial sales? But those in the fearmongering media led camp will go on distorting. And have not covid shut downs decreased air pollution world wide? Might mention this Aris.
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

concerted, World War-like effort to find technological solutions to the coming disaster,” – Thanks to those who exploited the climate issue to gain political advantage. We are 30 years behind in geoengineering with the premise that what mankind has created mankind can correct. As the situation becomes dire, we must take risks once deemed unacceptable in an effort to counter effects. New technology to scavenge CO2 need urgent development using the best physics and chemical minds. Safe nuclear energy must developed and installed to furnish the needed energy. We have many tools but lack the will.

Joseph Clemmow
Joseph Clemmow
2 years ago

An excellent and thought provoking piece from Aris. I am hopeful that we will have the technology in place to mitigate the worst effects of climate change before they arrive. Particular the ability to generate power on a mass scale which can then be used to desalinate water and green the worlds deserts (Thorium Power I am looking at you). The pessimistic side of me fears that we will have to experience the worst Climate change has to offer before we get our act together. It won’t be the apocalypse, but it will be absolutely miserable for hundreds of millions of people.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 years ago

whilst I agree with your point about moguls and oligarchs being far too rich (partly due to a failure of old taxation systems to deal with the new economy) and that big tech is far too powerful ….the law of big numbers tells me your claims about the super rich and their share of global emissions cannot possibly be right. I think a bit of fact checking is required before you can proceed with that particular line of argument

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

Climate change is a myriad of local problems repeated across the globe. It is not the same in UK as it is in Greece. The EU will perhaps help Greece with adaptation and maybe persuade the Poles that nuclear is as good as coal.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

Greece depends upon coal for electricity, too.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

Oh no. Climate change! Time for the “great reset”

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

The response to climate change must be primarily local. Here the Greek governemt, despite diastrous fires in 2018, ignored the issue.
The Spectator reports that a request for £15m for preventing fires received £1.4m. The fire service is 4000 firefighters understaffed and their equipment “is old and rusting”.
The writer’s apocalyptic cries help the useless politicians of this poor benighted country deflect criticism. They are after all signed up to Paris 2015, will attend COP26, and (recall) they are still in the EU and euro who will no doubt rush to their assistance. If the world is ending what can a politician do?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

It’s not just the upper crust that’s consuming. Drive through many a USA neighborhood to see yards filled with plastic stuff, boats, sheds, just junk. Growing up in a middle class neighborhood in the 1960’s there was no where near the crap one sees about today. Everyone, everywhere is consuming too much unnecessary junk. Much of the world has become more affluent than 50 years ago – cell phones, computers, video games, scooters, bikes, cars, etc. And everyone and their brother doesn’t hesitate to jump on a plane regularly which was a rare occurrence years ago. Europeans fly all over Europe whereas they used to take trains more. We could all do better to conserve.

G A
G A
2 years ago

Any issues will our ecosystem will never be solved when one side demands the other reduces the quality of its lifestyle.

Maintaining our ecosystem to where it can support us long-term requires technological solutions, which come from ideas.

In short, we need to have as many kids as possible as quickly as possible so there are more people having good ideas.

Last edited 2 years ago by G A
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

I heard Aris speak at an UnHerd discussion on the post-covid world where he said in a rather inscrutable way something on the lines that he ‘welcomed the onset of the post-liberal order’, whatever he meant by that. He at no point mentioned as a priority the climate calamity, so this piece seems to be a very emotive and rather irrational response to the terrible forest fires in Greece. It sounds more like an Extinction Rebellion / extreme Left rant than his usual analytical approach.
Pace loads of the expected inevitable conspiracist comments below, global warming is real, we know CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and mankind is almost certainly making a major contribution to it. It is perfectly possible to accept this without saying we have to abandon fossil fuels entirely within some arbitrary timescale and without regard for the enormous economic and social costs of doing so, in particular on the developing world. Whatever the many faults of governments in the ‘Global South’ the fact that all western countries are currently prioritising the vaccination of their own teenagers over giving vaccines to the vulnerable overseas shows how little regard the latter should give to the protestations of international benevolence.
Bjorn Lomborg writes well on the subject of economics-focussed climate policy, or you can also look at Mallen Baker’s YouTube evidence-based videos on many topics including climate change.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
2 years ago

Here we go again, this topic is as bad as Covid! There’s one side with 96% of scientists,thermometers and CO2 in ice cores. On the other the snow in Texas and Mexico as proof of a hoax. “The hockey stick has been proved to be false” etc etc.

Take a step back. Put your thermometers in your pocket and ask yourself this :

If the world was getting warmer is there anything in nature that can prove this. An indication that is absolute requiring no interpretation. The answer is yes there is, try these :

1.How many glaciers worldwide are receding?
2.Are flora and fauna migrating polewards?
3.Are tree lines moving to higher altitudes?

When you look at these then the answer is a resounding yes, the world is getting warmer. So you move to the next question, why? Now one thing we will dismiss immediately “it was warmer in the past”. So fricking what. We are not dinosaurs. We live with the flora and fauna on this planet in its current state and without it we die and something else takes over (T Rex 2!). So where is the heat coming from :

1.The sun
2.Geological
3.Man made

The second two are orders of magnitude lower than the sun. It’s clearly the sun , so how :

1.The sun is getting warmer
2.The heat reaching the planets surface has increased
3.The heat radiating back out to space is falling.

It’s not 1. We can observe this. It might be 2 but quite how would be a mystery. I don’t believe cloud levels have fallen or the atmosphere has become more transparent. Its number 3 and we know that this is the case from the cooling of the Stratosphere which has LESS heat travelling through it. The radiating back to space heat. So the heat is being trapped how? You can come out with cow farts if you like but Co2 has been measured and is increasing and the isotopes prove the increase is from fossil fuels……..but hang on!!!!! It is at this point the powers that be, those with the money, those telling us what to do simply don’t ask the next question, and it’s a beaut:

Has the absorption of Co2 around the planet fallen?

Because if it has then fossil fuel burning is not the problem. Pollution screws this up. Chopping down mature trees screws this up. Chemicals sprayed on soils screws this up. Soil erosion screws this up.

There’s your problem. Unfortunately the solutions DO NOT MAKE MONEY!

As I said it’s like Covid, the disease that exists but the overeaction is BS and the solutions even bigger BS but they make people a lot of money.

Climate change exists, the reaction is wrong and so the solutions are wrong but allow mega corps to make a lot of money.

Last edited 2 years ago by Malcolm Ripley
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
2 years ago

I’ve been following Aris Roussinos articles for some time now, he is one of the best thinkers on Unherd.
My thoughts exactly I want to say to Hayden Eastwood and Chris Sullivan.
And I’m taking this a step further but, I would propose the “No Children at all for those that are over a certain age and above (those 20 and above for example ) None” Give the Earth a chance to recover. O Children policy for the whole planet. And even then it would still be a huge challenge to survive.
One more thing.
Extinction rebellion makes no sense.
Population extinction does.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
2 years ago

Overpopulation is an “invisible” oppressive force on individuality and it will end in degradation of individualism and what it means to be human.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

A vast amount of human intelligence is being devoted (not least in the comments about this article) to mere sophistry about why climate change isn’t really happening / or is a good thing / or is beyond us to tackle / or is someone else’s fault / etc etc.

I don’t doubt that the ingenious people talking such tripe – merely in order to preserve their current affluence – will still be saying exactly the same things when they burn or drown.

Janko M
Janko M
2 years ago

Wonderful piece, as always by Aris. I have come to the conclusion that it is too late. Precious decades have been wasted. However, we can still mitigate or even avoid the worst of it. I think in any case humanity will survive, but we are heading into a tunnel and I honestly don’t know if we will emerge on the other side in in my lifetime (I’m circa 30).

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

As I post this, there are six other comments below on the article, all of them pooh-poohing it.

They can be summarised as:
– charming, insane optimism
– blame natural climate cycles, not human activity
– it isn’t the crisis that’s the problem, it’s the response that is !
-.the Greeks are to blame, for daring to need water, the cads.
– the other 2 Comments, inevitably, blame the Poor of the world (especially for having children).

If those 6 Comments are a reasonable sample of educated opinion in the West, then indeed we are doomed.

For myself, I believe the article gets it absolutely right.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

As you post it, these are the things we see your side doing:
– Choking up streets in London with useless cycle lanes (hardly 1% of the population) or closing interior road lanes, thereby vastly increasing vehicle congestion and pollution
– Replacing coal fired plants with even more polluting “Biomass” plants – literally cuts down trees, and more pollutants than coal – and pay massive subsidies for the privilege
– Insane rush to build wind farms and solar which would be ineffective at delivering consistent supply, while ignoring Nuclear because it’s all about “feelings”
– Rushing into stuff like all EV cars in countries like UK which are minor contributors to Co2 currently, while ignoring the infrastructure requirements, impact on poorer people who don’t have driveways, the pollution from mining Rare Earths….
– Similarly, blaming each and every environmental disaster on “Warming” with no consideration for the impact of overpopulation or pure mismanagement of forest resources by “feelings” based officials and govts.
– And finally, while very brave at attacking and suppressing critics, no guts to confront the biggest polluting nation that’s remorselessly adding massive Thermal power capacity every year.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

And maybe, just maybe, some of Tony’s points and some of yours are right, while others on both sides are not. How about a constructive debate?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

A constructive debate? With the left? Are you kidding? If you identify as in disagreement with the left they attempt to destroy your life.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Tried a few, including some with a friend who is no longer one.

What I met: Religious fervor, The narrative, sorry “Science” is always right, complete belief in something even if it contradicts something else you believe in completely (Women are super strong and suggesting otherwise is sexism, and they are also the sole victims of domestic violence)…

Most people like me would accept the need to reduce pollution, use renewable if possible and not too onerous, etc etc

Most people on the other side would not budge an inch no matter how ridiculous their views are.

Last edited 2 years ago by Samir Iker
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

Yup-it is pretty easy to figure out causes of present/future tough times for homosapiens, but much harder to figure out what will mitigate those tough times-in the real world. So the more discussion and brainstorming the better vs I just wanna feel good about being right. And of course the rubber hits the road where we actually do something differently OURSELVES.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

There are no “sides” on this; or shouldn’t be. It isn’t a culture war.

Not all liberals are climate activists, not all conservatives are ostriches about climate change.

John Urwin
John Urwin
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Although those in the developing world use much less energy, they do adversely affect local biodiversity – insects to large creatures, so it would be good if their populations could be stabilised. Experience has shown this can be achieved by educating the females. The vast number of artefacts and processes that make our life so comfortable and protect us, cars, aircraft, weapon systems, medical equipment, food production, housing, clothes, books, music, the myriad of things in our houses, hospitals and shops etc, all require energy in manufacture or use. Prof. McKay, a deceased previous government energy advisor estimated this at 125 kW hrs per person per day in the UK in his free downoad “Without Hot Air”. Assuming we wish to continue to live like this and that others will aspire likewise, this energy has to come from somewhere. Even if the CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning is not affecting the planet’s temperature, fossil fuels will not last for ever so it is sensible to prepare for this. The best form of energy for the future is nuclear fusion – this has always been 40 years away, but recently some promising advances have materialised. Once fusion has been added to the energy mix, it is then possible to take CO2 out of the atmosphere (look up Carbon Energy), take hydrogen out of water (very energy intensive process) and create synthetic fuels for cars and aircraft. How will the oil producing countries fund their populations with much reduced sales? Fortunately they have enormous amounts of sunlight – pump in water (heavy stuff) and you have hydrogen – yes, we may still depend on them! Everything listed above in the first section has been created by professional engineers, so we have to sort it and it can be done given time. If you dislike our mass consumption economy, I share your view, but how else can we provide jobs for our populations? If you don’t believe that CO2 is contributing to climate change, the political and much of the scientific class don’t agree. They will be driving the future. Somehow we need to influence them.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  John Urwin

Well put sir.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I dont think ‘blame’ is the correct word – more like attempting to figure out the cause of problems present and future that may need to be addressed if homo sapiens are not to slowly, messily slide off the global stage …….