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The truth about eco-fascism Environmentalism has been hijacked by the technocrats

Green is the new Black (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)


November 12, 2022   11 mins

By now, you have probably heard about the rising threat of “eco-fascism”. If you haven’t, you soon will, because the number of people warning about this new danger to civilisation seems to be growing exponentially. In publications Right and Left and neither, you’ll be able to read long expositions of the origins and intentions of this frightening movement, which seems to be taking root all over the world.

Those essays and articles could be rolled into one easily enough, and sometimes it seems as if they have been. The formula is always the same, and can be usefully applied across the political spectrum. Start with talk of the “rising tide of authoritarianism” all over the world, as evidenced by “populism”, Brexit, Giorgia Meloni, Viktor Orbán, Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump, Joe Biden or any other leader you don’t like. Move on to explore how much of this “rising authoritarianism” is reflected in environmentalism, as evidenced by Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, the Green New Deal, the Great Reset, Bill Gates, Greta Thunberg or [insert name of bête noire here].

After this, list the historical inspirations for these new green authoritarians: Ted Kaczynski, Pentti Linkola and Dave Foreman should do for starters. Dig into the most miserable chans and Reddits of the internet and “expose” a few anonymised avatars promoting race war in the name of the planet. Mention the Christchurch shooter. Use the phrase “dark undercurrent” a lot. Chuck in the names of a couple of nature writers from the Thirties who became fascists. Mutter darkly about how Hitler was a vegetarian. Did you know there was an organic garden at Dachau? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Having got here, you can move on to the meat of the thing: sombrely intoning about the “new threat to democracy” represented by this frightening movement. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can now explain how these new eco-authoritarians represent either a threat to our God-given right to drive, mine, manufacture, fly, burn oil and freely enjoy the glories that only Western Progress can provide, or a threat to diversity, equality, human rights, LGBTQIA++ people, refugees, “global justice” and a woman’s right to choose. Either way, the conclusion will be much the same: a non-specific but ominous call for more monitoring of “problematic” views, more work to tackle “radicalisation”, more laws to prevent protests and “hate speech”, and probably more internet regulation. For the safety of us all, of course.

The problem, though, is that actual “eco-fascism” is notable mostly for its absence. Dark corners of the internet aside — you can find any craziness there, after all — it’s hard to find a single “eco-fascist” anywhere out in the real world. No public intellectuals, no writers, no philosophers, no politicians, no popular movements embrace anything of the kind. Plenty of people get the label applied to them of course — without the prefix, the word “fascist” has been a meaningless, all-purpose insult for decades — but they all reject it. I was in and around the green movement for a long time and I never met an eco-fascist, though I did have the pleasure of being called one.

So why all the dire warnings? I can think of two possible explanations.

The first is the simplest: there is something we can’t bear to look at, and we are trying to distract attention from it by screaming at the people who are pointing it out. The thing we are avoiding is the thing that we used to call “nature”, and the reality that we are trying to distract attention from is that we are part of it, we live inside it and that everything we do to it we also do to ourselves. Change the climate out there and it changes in here. Erode the soil, erode your soil. Poison the oceans, poison your culture. This is how it works, and this is what we are now facing.

And we cannot face it, even those of us who think we can. Whatever we think our politics are, we have no idea what to do about the coming end of the brief age of abundance, and the reappearance, armed and dangerous, of what we could get away with denying for a few decades: limits. Those who point these limits out — and who point out, especially, that the very existence of industrial modernity might be the root cause of the problems we currently face — can expect to be smacked down with the worst insults our culture can conjure.

This is one explanation for the mysterious rise of the ghostly eco-fascists. But I think there might be another. The phrase “eco-fascist” is a label which is increasingly being applied to the wrong kind of environmentalist: those who offer up a vision of humanity and nature that involves roots, traditions, smallness, simplicity, a return to previous lifeways. They are contrasted with the right kind of green: those who are modern, global, progressive and — most important — friendly to the onward march of the technological society.

Nearly a decade ago, I wrote an essay called “Dark Ecology”, about the state of environmentalism. In it, I wrote about the emergence of a tendency in green circles which I called “neo-environmentalism”. The neo-greens — who preferred to call themselves “ecomodernists” — emerged as a reaction to the traditional green movement, which in its infancy had been relatively conservative, low-tech and focused on the human scale. The neo-greens rejected all this as backward, impractical and even dangerous. They believed, as I wrote back then, that: Civilisation, nature and people can be ‘saved’ only by enthusiastically embracing biotechnology, synthetic biology, nuclear power, geoengineering”. The “new environmentalism”, they declared, in manifestoes like this one, would be, as we might now say, “grown-up”.

Sucks to be right, as the kids say. Since I wrote that essay, the neo-greens have, as predicted, mounted an effective corporate takeover of most of the environmental movement. Examples of what we might call Machine Environmentalism have been embraced by the corporate sector, big NGOs, global institutions and most of the intellectual class, most obviously in the “Green New Deals” that are popping up like summer daisies in all corners of the globe. Meanwhile, the green movement is splintering into camps, determined by attitudes to the kind of intrusive and novel technologies that the Machine Greens are pushing.

In Britain, this divide has been illustrated recently by attitudes to green pundit George Monbiot’s latest book, which embraces the neo-green vision. In the humbly titled Regenesis, Monbiot, an urban vegan intellectual, makes a case — based, naturally, on the “peer-reviewed science” — for the “end of most farming” and the replacement of much of its output with vat-grown, bacterial “food” manufactured via “industrial biotechnology”. The vast acreages of land which have been stripped of their farmers can then be “rewilded” in various Monbiot-approved ways, which mainly seem to involve growing forests for always-on urbanites to go wolf-spotting at weekends.

In promoting a high-tech, globalised food system (perhaps overseen by the world government he has previously argued for), and casually calling for the destruction of the basis of post-Neolithic human civilisation, Monbiot offers a perfect example of what a neo-green future will look like: utopian, hyper-urban, technological, rational and most of all, “efficient”. What matters now, as he explains, is mathematics:

“It’s time we became obsessed by numbers. We need to compare yields, compare land uses, compare the diversity and abundance of wildlife, compare emissions, erosion, pollution, costs, inputs, nutrition…”

Welcome to what the greens have become.

A number of actual farmers who are also first-rate thinkers have taken aim at Monbiot’s Machine Green dystopia in recent months (Simon FairlieChris Smaje and John Lewis-Stempel offer some of the best critiques), but while they might win the battle they are, for now at least, losing the war. Only last month, a pioneering Finnish “solar food” company championed by Monbiot was given EU permission to roll out production of their new “sustainable protein” (as part of the “European green deal”). The company says that the laboratory in which it produces this “novel food” — which it calls “Factory 01” — is part of a “food revolution” that will, for the first time in history, detach food production from the land, the farmers who work it and the culture it creates. Excitable admirers are already explaining that this may give us the ability to one day 3D-print our own food. I’m salivating already.

Older, crustier greenies like me, labouring under the yoke of a pre-modern sensibility which makes us reluctant to eat the sludge and live in the pod, might feel that something has gone terribly wrong with the numbers-obsessed rationalism that underlies this new, corporate-friendly green technocracy. But we have no five-point plan of our own, and we can’t peer-review our intuition, so our complaints don’t convince anybody who matters. And now that the localists, the deep ecologists, the peasants, the small farmers — and anyone else whose human-scale vision might interfere with the march of Progress — have been conveniently designated “eco-fascists”, we are able to behold the only legitimate form of environmentalism which remains: a globalised technocratic, “progressive” push for “sustainability”, led by intellectuals, entrepreneurs and professional activists.

The green movement, long ago co-opted by the Left, has now been co-opted too by technocrats. For this reason, the neo-green (or should we say soylent green?) food future can’t be viewed in isolation. It is only one aspect of the unfolding phenomenon which has been dubbed the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — a revolution in which the Machine Greens, wittingly or otherwise, are playing a key part.

Dreamt up, like so many other catchy corporate catchphrases, by the World Economic Forum in 2015, the Fourth Revolution is a way of describing our historical moment. That same year, Foreign Affairs produced a book by the same name, to accompany the annual Davos gathering of politicians, business leaders and Bono. In it, the inescapable Klaus Schwab explains, in prose that could make a Martian invasion sound boring, the import of the times we are living through:

“The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third… It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

The rest of the book, made up of offerings from various scientists, engineers, politicians and philosophers, explores the implications of this “blurring of lines” between created and uncreated, natural and artificial, wild and tamed. Now that we inhabit what the neo-greens like to call the “Anthropocene” — now that we are, in H. G. Wells’s formulation, Men Like Gods — what do we intend to conjure with the thunder and the lightning that pours forth from our just and rational fingers?

All of the contributors stress that overcoming the old-school distinction between the digital and the natural is the essence of the thing. Neil Gershenfeld, for example, defines the “digital fabrication revolution” — the one which will soon be growing our tank-bred bio-sludge dinners — as “the ability to turn data into things and things into data”. “Intelligent” buildings, wearable sensors, implanted chips: six years ago, when this book was written, these may have seemed radical. Today, it feels as if they have been almost normalised.

Partly this is because of the ubiquity of Amazon Alexas, Smartphone apps and endless, boosterish narratives about the exciting future that AI is building. And partly it is because the Covid pandemic was used as a trial run for precisely the kind of technologies — smartphone-enabled passports, digital population tracking, media-driven narrative control — which are now increasingly sold to us as a means of “saving the planet”. It is no coincidence that some of the loudest proponents of Machine Environmentalism were also fanatical supporters of the Covid biosecurity state. We are being trained to like what is coming — or at least to shrug our shoulders and accept its inevitability.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Fourth Revolution, though, is what has been called “datafication”. The book’s chapter on “Big Data” explains that the knowledge available to each of us today on the Internet dwarfs that which would have been available in the Great Library of Alexandria, the greatest repository of learning in the ancient world. But size, as they explain, isn’t everything:

“Big data is also characterized by the ability to render into data many aspects of the world that have never been quantified before; call it ‘datafication’. For example, location has been datafied, first with the invention of longitude and latitude, and more recently with GPS satellite systems. Words are treated as data when computers mine centuries’ worth of books. Even friendships and ‘likes’ are datafied, via Facebook.”

Here we see the same “obsession with numbers” that George Monbiot demands of us as we contemplate how to produce our food and live in our landscape, and it reveals the elision between Machine Environmentalism and the elite-driven tech revolution it is part of. What we can see is that both achieve their goals through the process of datafication: the quantification of everything. The pattern of reality will be transformed into bits and bytes, comparisons and yields, numbers and statistics, until even novels and friendships and meadows and family meals on winter nights can be measured and compared and judged for their relative contributions to efficiency and sustainability.

There is a rift here, and we should gaze deep into it, because there is something down there that we need to make out. It is the ancient rift between those who embrace the mindset of “datafication” — which is, in the form of sums and written language, one of the foundations of civilisation — and those who are repelled by it. I suspect it can never really be healed, because it marks the border between two distinct ways of seeing. The philosopher Jeremy Naydler has referred to them as ratio and the nous, but we could just as well call them left and right brain, mythos and logos, or — perhaps most simply — the sacred and the profane.

The Fourth Revolution and the Machine Environmentalism which it contains offer us a profoundly profane vision of the world. Life in this understanding is not a sacred thing but an engineering challenge. It is something which can be studied, quantified and constantly tweaked until we arrive at the most efficient version. This may be done with the best of intentions (or it may not) but the things which cannot be measured will, of course, be left out of the equation, and the things which cannot be measured happen to be the stuff of life. Love. God. Place. Culture. The profound mystery of beauty. A feeling for land or community or cultural traditions or the unfolding of human history over generations. Song. Art. They’ll “datafy” all of this soon enough, no doubt, or try to. But the kind of people who think that the Great Library of Alexandria contained “exabytes’ worth of information” rather than the collected fruits of hard-won wisdom are lost before they ever sit down to their datasets.

If you have ever wondered why climate change has so utterly dominated the green debate to the exclusion of so many other problems which stem from industrial society — mass extinction, soil erosion, the collapse of human cultures, ocean pollution — then the answer, I think, is here. Climate change is a problem amenable to numerical questions and technocratic answers. It is, furthermore, a problem which, almost by definition, can only be solved by elites. If you can’t read or understand the “peer-reviewed science” then you are open to being intimidated into fearful silence by those who can, or claim they can. And those people — drawn, as all green “thought leaders” are, from the upper strata of society — will bring with them a worldview which treats the mass of humanity like so many cattle to be herded into the sustainable, zero-carbon pen. If you’re wondering where you’ve heard this story before, just dig out your dirty old Covid mask. It will all come flooding back.

Interestingly, some of the progenitors of the Fourth Revolution are themselves uneasy about where some of it is leading. Even Klaus Schwab, who these days is often lazily presented as a volcano-dwelling Bond villain pulling the global strings, admits to unease at the speed and scale of change. In the book, he expresses his timid concern about how our “quintessential human capacities such as compassion and co-operation” might be eroded by deep shifts like these. “It is already changing our health and leading to a ‘quantified’ self,” he writes, “and sooner than we think it may lead to human augmentation”.

Even as he proselytises for the Fourth Revolution, Schwab can see what is coming. Google maps and smartphone apps were always just the beginning. We are headed into a Brave New World of all-knowing Smart homes and vat-grown sludge for breakfast, and every step along that road will make perfect rational sense. A Panopticon world, remade at the nano level by the allegedly well-meaning, lies just around the corner. C. S. Lewis understood the trap well: “Of all tyrannies,” he wrote, “a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive… those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

What the Fourth Revolutionaries never seem to grasp is that the question you ask will frame the philosophy you develop. If your question is “how can we remove all this atmospheric carbon to avoid what these computer models say is coming?” then the answer can only lead you to a globalised technocracy. If, on the other hand, the question you ask is “how can we build lives which offer us meaning, in alliance with the rest of nature?” then you may be led in a very different direction.

It is the first kind of question that a Machine society will always ask, and there will always be endless, multiplying justifications for asking it. Ecology, equality, feminism, democracy, public health, growth, security, the war on terror or crime or drugs or whatever: there is always a reason for Big Data. The control is always necessary to prevent a greater evil. Even a movement which once challenged this grim way of seeing has today been bought and sold by it.

For at least 200 years we have been thoroughly undermining the foundations of all of our assumptions. Now, new cracks in the masonry are appearing daily. Can we caulk them up with vat-grown eco-sludge and hope they don’t spread? Can Big Data come to our rescue? What can we measure, manage, monitor, to help us escape from this? This is what I think, though I often wish I didn’t: we are living now through what may be the final triumph of Rational Man. The tower he has made has nearly touched the very roof of the world. Every old story can tell us what will happen next.


Paul Kingsnorth is a novelist and essayist. His latest novel Alexandria is published by Faber. He also has a Substack: The Abbey of Misrule.


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Simon James
Simon James
1 year ago

Same old story. A small, self-selected group want to be in control of everybody else. They used to need spears and swords, now they use data and laws. What hasn’t changed, most depressingly, is that the whole enterprise is still powered by bullying and intimidation. Even the exhortation to be ‘kind’ is used to hector people. How have we managed to accumulate so much information and learn nothing?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

By believing we wanted our institutions to be run by clever people, instead of wise ones.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
1 year ago

So true!
I have met many clever people who are unable do the simplest of tasks.
We need very clever people but they need to be moderated by the wise.
I’m always struck by how young our government advisers are.Wisdom comes with age.

Bengt Dhover
Bengt Dhover
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

“Wisdom comes with age.”
Retort: Joe Biden.

I rest my case.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bengt Dhover
Dawn McD
Dawn McD
1 year ago
Reply to  Bengt Dhover

To be fair, most generalizations should come with an asterisk next to them.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Bengt Dhover

Wisdom does come with age! However it does not come to all: sometimes dementure gets in the way. However, wisdom without age is very rare. Every civilization recognised that until the present one. The reason is that information (always secondary to wisdom) has become primary these days: especially the fallacy that all problems can be cured by technology. Wisdom would say the magical cure is often worse than the disease especially in the wrong (unwise) hands!!

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Peter Dennett
Peter Dennett
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

The Germans have a word for that.
Fachidiot

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

A word of caution: the wise are not always motivated by altruism.. Cunning is wisdom used by narcissists. Just as technology can be used to benefit people in general, it can also be used to benefit the few. Indeed that is the big change as I see it: so few wise/ brilliant people use their God-given talents these days to benefit the many. Perhaps it’s because they are mostly atheists now and ‘higher’ motivations are, as a result pointless?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

It is an age old conundrum: sadly people tend to opt for one or the other and end up as unable to see the other’s contribution. The answer is always the same: Love is all its manifestations: tolerence, acceptance, compassion and humility. If you look around you you’ll see the complete opposite: polarisation, identification, hate speech, selfishness and mind-bending arrogance.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

I think it’s because those collecting the information imagine that they already have the answers. The data is used to reinforce their preconceptions and anything that doesn’t quite fit is ignored or discounted.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Enter the deadly priestly claims of progressive Intersectionality goals mixed with big data.

Data barely scrapes the surface in unraveling the complexities of humanity, but if one can convince the world that only a few datapoints matter (enter Intersectionality data points) then you can sell big (but rudimentary) data marketing and power to authoritarian world leaders.

The complexities of humanity and the individual be damned – data collection isn’t sophisticated enough to approach quantification at the level of the individual. Intersectionality levels only. Forcing square pegs in round holes.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

E.F. Shumacher stated that science is a great tool for studying inanimate materials, very poor at studying life, and virtually useless ar studying consciousness and awareness. In other words, the more important the subject the less effective science becomes as a tool. This is patently true and yet science is the new god and wisdom is virtually consigned to the scrapheap.. I found his little book “A Guide for the Perplexed” a real eye opener when I read it 50 years ago. I still refer to it: it is more relevant today than ever!

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

And as we saw with Covid – when the data no longer shows what they want – they stop collecting it. Or collect it in a way that is intentionally misleading. So they are finally acknowledging that dying with Covid is not the same as dying of Covid. My favourite is that anyone who died or was seriously ill within 2 weeks of taking the vaccine was listed as unvaccinated.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

That is not entirely invalid! The vaccine does (reportedly) take two weeks at least to become effective: ego a jabbed person is still not vaccinated for the following two weeks. You gotta be fair..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Too often the data are collected scientifically by honest professionals only to see it fall into the wrong hands.. eg from scientists to politicians. Prejudice is the hallmark of the successful politician: doubt is the hallmark of the honest scientist.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

Because our essentially fallen nature remains.

Simon James
Simon James
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

You are Paul Kingsnorth and I claim my five pounds!

Leola McIntyre
Leola McIntyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

GOOD

Last edited 1 year ago by Leola McIntyre
Brooke Walford
Brooke Walford
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

That’s right– information rich, wisdom poor.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

Far too simplistic, as explanations requiring ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ usually are. Contradiction runs through human souls! I haven’t noticed for example any mass aversion to the almost continual use of smartphones, including among our warring political tribes. We weren’t bullied into buying them. As to ‘woke’, much as I might agree with you on some of it, that actually runs through us as well, to varying degrees, and social attitudes do shift.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Contradiction is not the best term to define the phenomenon you describe. Paradox is a better term. It explains why absolute truth is beyond us and Yin and Yang is our lot instead.. perhaps the “Fall” meant we were denied yruth and have had to make do with “right and wrong” ever since?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

I guess it was whenever we valued information over wisdom, novelty over experience, rights and entitlements over responsibilities and duty, fake news and wokism over facts and commonsense?

Peter Dennett
Peter Dennett
1 year ago

This sounds like a total nightmare. Add to this the changes in the brain that Ultra Processed Food (UPF) does to us and you have the perfect controlling mechanism.
The funny thing is that in theory, technocracy and the use of technology to solve climate change sounds so reasonable. We have all been conditioned to shy away from anything that sniffs of conspiracy theory. Lately I have been noticing a lot of my initial reactions are in fact part of this conditioning. (reactions like “You can’t say that”, or “All the people are white”) and it is really damaging. Our media is freaking out at Georgia Meloni winning the Italian election but the truth is that it is just an Italian politician in Italy sticking up for Italians. How can this be a bad thing?
Back to the environment. I agree with Paul regarding the questions that are being asked. We do need to look after and live in and with our environment, but this includes eating naturally grown foods and not synthesised goop from a vat. For a while I have been saying that there will be more and more people getting off the hamster wheel and unhooking from technology. It is becoming more and more appealing.

Philip Crowley
Philip Crowley
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Dennett

I agree with everything you’ve said, Peter, but the last paragraph is a standout.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Dennett

Why does it? Our food isn’t ‘natural’ in any meaningful sense, any more than the landscape is, but the product if tens of thousands of years of thoroughgoing human selection! Or one might add the human AND livestock density on the planet.

We always need to look at costs and benefits to everything, as far as we can, but going back to some supposed pristine age of innocence isn’t an option.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Dennett

« Unhooking from technology … is becoming more and more appealing » And yet here we all are: on the internet

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

A few points.
Maybe it was humans that killed off the megafauna.
Then humans domesticated a ton of innocent animals
Then humans terraformed the Earth with agriculture.
Then humans burnt off a lot of forest in North America so the buffalo could roam and they could hunt deer.
So we humans have been mucking about with Nature for quite a while.
Now, the thing about the first three industrial revolutions was that they were revolutions from below, Anybodies like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Jobs & Co. just doin’ stuff and hiring Nobodies to do the dirty work. The fourth industrial revolution is like the Communist Revolutions: revolution from above by conceited Somebodies.

Katalin (Melbourne)
Katalin (Melbourne)
1 year ago

humans domesticated a ton of innocent animals” – the images this brought to my mind will cheer me up for days! Please write more 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Katalin (Melbourne)
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

I have no idea at all how you make out the Industrial Revolution, as coming from ‘below’!! The Industrial Revolution was driven by profit of manufacturers and to some extent landowners, and the enclosures and 18th century Agricultural Revolution entirely by the interests of the latter.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Some, if not all of the geniuses were indeed relatively small fry. Of course the powerful soon took over and made fortunes.. a few of the geniuses did as well but many didn’t.
These days the geniuses are mostly already in the employ of those whose sole aim is to exploit the advance to create wealth for the few. I agree: the difference is minor and perhaps unimportant? Tesla after all ended poor and possibly mad while the fat cats exploited his genius. That is the perennial problem: the meek inherit the Earth but then the strong inherit the meek!

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

The elephant in the room didn’t even rate a mention in this otherwise interesting argument. The more people you have needing feeding the more hard pressed the world will be to provide food. The more technological means will be used to integrate the supply chain, to extract the last scrap of efficiency. It is a modern Tower of Babel, wired for data.
I am not in favour of any forced depopulation; I hope the trend of reduced child bearing in the developed world catches on and we work towards a more sustainable global population. One that promotes the stuff of life. Love. God (of your choice or none). Place. Culture. The profound mystery of beauty.
“I am not a number; I am a free man.” ~ The Prisoner.
Ahead of it’s time perhaps?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Most of the world actually is moving towards depopulation. Apart from the “first world” whose original people and culture might well be extinct in a few generations, China is shrinking and India is close to hitting zero growth.

Problem is, the parts that are growing by leaps and bounds just happen to be the countries that aren’t exactly Wakanda.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

China is ordering women to have more babies.
India… who knows?
West of India, where Allah reigns is the wild west of population growth!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Stoll

China is not finding it easy to reverse the effects of the one child policy and urbanisation.

India, we know. About 2/3rd of the states are at or below replacement. Of course, the usual exceptions (less literate states and muslim communities still have higher than average rates) but I would say 20 years to stabilise and then decline.

Africa and middle East is where that population battle is being lost. And Europe is next door!

George Connery
George Connery
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

quite

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

‘We’ shall have to ‘Nuke’ them, it is a Darwinian imperative!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

At least you’re honest in your views unlike the veiled expressions of others nearby!

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The UK’s birth rate is falling.
We need more immigration 🙂

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

No we need to encourage the WASPs to up their ‘bonking rate’ by tax incentives. Quality NOT quantity is what is needed if we are to survive.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Quite a contradiction in one short paragraph: we need to encourage white people to breed but ‘quality’ is more important! ‘Tax incentives’ – fat chance that would have any chance of working at all. What about among other things perhaps massively increasing the number of houses so that families could settle down much earlier and have much lower housing costs?

I suspect we would see the contradictions of so many right wing people, who might be ever so concerned about population make up, but not so much that they want any new development near them!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Blatant racism! The smartest and best among you are not WASPS. Just look at your own Tory government! I had the pleasure of training 500 middle/senior managers in a large English firm some years ago. The best performers were Indian/Pakistani heritage: next came the Irish. The English came in¹ a poor 3rd.. so your case for ‘quality’ doesn’t stand up. I will admit that I did not measure arrogance and racism: only intelligence and commitment and, as a result, you self-opinonated types did not do well.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

That is an unassailable factband yet earns so many downticks! Odd isn’t it? There are alternatives of course:
1. Produce more offspring yourselves!
2. Do the menial low wage jobs you assign to immigrants.
I cannot see you whities doing either any time soon so immigration remains the only other reasonable option. Face it!
We Irish repopulated England for you for generations but now we too are too posh to push (both babies and brushes!) so the baton is passed to those who aren’t so posh!

Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

Or we need to respect older workers and make do with less. A lot less. Amazon for starters.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Looking at world population obscures the changes in populations within nations. In the UK the average number of children per woman has been in a fairly relentless decline since 1820. See https://www.statista.com/statistics/1033074/fertility-rate-uk-1800-2020/
Declining birth rates bring a wholly different set of problems to increasing birth-rates.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

While it is true that places like Sub-Saharan Africa are increasing their populations through natural means, even this is in decline. The fertility rate in Ghana has dropped from 4.3 in 2010 to 3.8 in 2020 and even in Chad, this has dropped from 6.6 to 5.6 within the same period. Still well above the 2.2 rate necessary for natural population replenishment but even there, population growth is slowing. However, it does look like that White Europeans and East Asians are a dying breed. Many European countries have a fertility rate well below 2.0 and a number of Asian countries have a fertility rate below 1.0.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

And what a good thing to reduce the numbers of marauding, murderous, thieving Westerns (like me: although I’m not guilty nor are my countrymen of those atrocities). The USA is the epitome of an extremely dangerous and viciously destructive species that badly needs to die out! They’ve taken over from their masters, ie British Empire thugs who looted and starved millions before them. Add in two more whities: Hitler and Stalin and the picture becomes clearer. Yet we whities bemoan the loss of our so called ‘civilisation’. What a sick joke!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

But population growth will almost certainly gradually reduce in other continents too – it looked like India was a no hoper in this regard as well not very long ago. Some while ago, I found that the average number of ‘children per woman’ was only just over 2, even taking into account all the faster growing populations, which is quite extraordinary really.

I have no idea what you mean by ‘Wakanda’.

Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Population grown is not actually reducing. The amount of babies being born is reducing but population is increasing as people are living longer.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

A racist remark thar should not be tolerated.

Nanou De Ridder
Nanou De Ridder
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

A recent study showed that sperm counts have dropped by 67% worldwide. Death rates have also increased since 2020. Seems depopulation is coming one way or another.

Julian Williams
Julian Williams
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Spot on. There are simply too many humans – end of. Currently at 8-9 billion, even with developed parts of the world producing fewer offspring, the global population is set to rise to 12-14 billion by 2050 or so. But it isn’t the 8-9 billion alive today that are the root-cause of the issues we now face, it was somewhere along this path over the past 250 years, as the population was growing from a ‘sustainable’ 800 million or so (think about that) that the irreversible rot set in. The proportion of today’s 8-9 billion people who don’t have what the better-off proportion do have won’t be content, quite understandably, until they do – to say nothing of the demands placed on the world’s, resources as the human population continues to increase over the next 50-100 years. The only way the human population – and life on earth and, even, the planet itself – survives is with a culling of the human race. This won’t happen of course, so draw your own conclusions.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

8 billion this month, according to Earth Sky News https://earthsky.org/human-world/world-population-to-reach-8-billion-in-late-2022/

there’s no way that the population will continue to rise for another 50 to 100 years.
We are going off the energy cliff, the western world is already facing population collapse and replacement.
so, you can forget about 12 – 14 billion, which no-one except yourself seems to be calling for.

Julian Williams
Julian Williams
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

I’m not ‘calling for’ such an increase – quite the opposite. 12-14 bn in 50-100 years is, admittedly, the extreme case of unfettered human population growth, but nothing in humankind’s existence so far suggests that it can exercise the required self-restraint (a population of 800 m just 250 years ago makes this point). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_overpopulation.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

This is nonsense. Population growth is not a threat. The global population will plateau soon enough and then we will have the challenge of population decline.

Guy Pigache
Guy Pigache
1 year ago

Take a deep breath, calm down and read some Hans Rosling (RIP) of the Korolinska Institute.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Pigache

Mere speculation no doubt?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Exactly Sir, well said indeed!
We need a new ‘Black Death’, sadly COVID-19 proved a dismal failure and now we must live with the consequences.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago

You sound like a great candidate for the job of Global Population Czar — although China has already demonstrated the downsides — including gruesome, forced abortions — of your coveted totalitarianism.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

You couldn’t get the figures right for D Day, so your supercilious remark is obviously without merit.
You must do better!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Same sentiment I heard expressed one day when lunching at The Jockey Club in Newmarket, a solicitor having somehow passes the election process…

Joe smith
Joe smith
1 year ago

I wish the people who so eagerly talk about the need for a new black death would stop waiting around for poor people to die horrible deaths and volunteer. If you really believe there are too many people, kill yourself.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago

“This won’t happen of course”? Are you sure? The wars that are coming between the rich of the north and west and the poor of south and east could well lead to such a culling, particularly if tactical nuclear gets used, or biological weapons.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

The world can easily feed itself and create enough power for everyone to enjoy prosperity. We chose not to.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Exactly why your distasteful ‘culling’ of the population (would you volunteer – or perhaps your family?) is supposed to be a ‘solution’ to the adverse effects of over-population isn’t very obvious. There is not much worse than being dead after all, or at least most people think so! Then there would be the likelihood that there would be increased birth rates afterwards, as there tends to be after devastating wars.

Why are people, Right, Left, Green, whatever so drawn to evidence free catastrophism? Of course psychologically we love our pet theories, and people just cling on to their favoured doom mongering, whatever the changing evidence may be. I just love how some arbitrary number is selected, whether population, temperature or whatever, above which we are all doomed! What science is there to prove 800 milion was ‘sustainable’ (itself a massively overused and poorly defined term) and above that not? If we went back to hunter gatherer societies living in bands, as modern human beings have lived for the vast majority of our time on Earth, and when we last lived ‘sustainably’ with the rest of nature, it would be more like a few million across the planet.

Living standards and life expectancy are rising, not falling and population growth is rapidly slowing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Living standards and life expectancy aren’t rising in Yemeni. Or many African countries. Nor in Britain among the poor living from handouts or food banks, or those who work in retail on minimum wage who everyone forgets. The poor are living in some terrible living standards such as the child who died of mould spores in England from a corrupt social housing landlord. The middle classes clearly need educating

Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago

The worlds birth rate is declining by the population rate is increasing as people live longer. What do you intend to do? Kill us all off? Or work it out? There will be, in future be a reduction in population in future years as less babies are born. The issue is not that people live longer but live longer healthier and more productive.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

“…I hope the trend of reduced child bearing in the developed world catches on and we work towards a more sustainable global population.”

Hope is not required because this is indeed happening already. It’s prosperity that produces a slowdown in the birthrate, and the great irony is that the same people who appear to want a controlled population seem also dedicated to sabotaging the mechanism that produces it.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Exactly. And if they succeed in throttling down fossil fuel use without replacing it with something reliable and cheap like fission then food production at sustainable rates will plummet and population inexorably will follow while survivors scramble to convert every last acre of parkland and forest into food production. We’ll go back to being the serfs that most humans were for all but the last hundred years or so since the advent of agriculture. And kings and despots will reign again. Except for the elites. There are always elites. The difference is how much control they have over everbody else. .

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Precisely.

Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

All very trivial. And unreal. Populations decrease because women are getting better educated and putting off having children until later. Then depending on IVF which is far from being in decline

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I always thought Danger Man was better.Although Portmeirian is nice.
Where did they get that big balloon?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Bo

Agreed ‘Danger Man’ takes the palm, but ‘The Prisoner’ was not without merit.
https://www.facebook.com/PurrrAvengers/videos/opening-and-closing-credits-the-prisoner/434522723806681/

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Well, when you’re old and feeling cold, and your pension doesn’t cover your needs, just think how better life might have been if there had been s few more babies born who could have grown up to work in power-stations etc and paid taxes to support you.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

You forget a few important points: the Earth is well capable of providing for everyone’s need (not everyone’s greed: Gandhi).. the average American consumes 23 yimes as much as the average African.. hence, one American fewer = 23 fewer Africans!
Look at the size of the Netherlands and check out the volume of food it produces. Producing food (apart from meat) is CO² positive as plants absorb CO². Simple/ primitive folk have no need of expensive, CO² producing gadgets not do they need to transport themselves or goods vast distances (producing vast quantities of CO²) to live meaningful lives.
Localisation is the answer: but it needs one key ingredient: love in all its forms..

Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Most food in the Netherlands is grown in Greenhouses, is tasteless and lacks nutritional value. Love? You can keep it.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
1 year ago

Hmmm. I am an ecomodernist, meaning that I believe technology will provide solutions to some of our environmental problems, and that if we shrink away from technology and try to return to a pre-industrial society to save “the planet,” many of us will starve and the rest will be condemned to a life just above subsistence.
And I think George Monbiot is a maniac. If he is an ecomodernist then I am a kangaroo. He may have changed recently, but he has been a vigorous advocate of “re-wilding” the planet to make it unfit for human habitation so our population will decline and eventually go away. He tried to arrest a very distinguished U.S. diplomat for imagined crimes. He has totally embarrassed the once-proud newspaper, the Guardian, although they bear responsibility for continuing to print his diatribes.
If you want to learn more about ecomodernism, go to http://www.ecomodernism.org or buy my book, Fewer, Richer, Greener, at https://www.amazon.com/Fewer-Richer-Greener-Prospects-Abundance/dp/1119526892/. It is an interdisciplinary, literary, pro-capitalist, politically moderate book that explores ways to achieve a brighter future.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

I’m with you on everything you say here except the part where technology will provide “some” of the solutions – my view is that it can and should provide all of them. And you are certainly right about the real world consequences of trying to implement the romanticised view of a pre-industrial society: those still exist in other parts of the world and no sane human would ever willingly condemn themselves to live out their existence in such a way.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Thanks. Technology will not guarantee liberalism, or rationality, or kindness. But it will provide all of the solutions to some of the problems.

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh
1 year ago

Interesting. I will have a read.

Josef Oskar
Josef Oskar
1 year ago

In one word this article writes about insanity, human mental insanity. It is the result of the success of two-three centuries of the progress humanity, a part of the humanity, generated. It created a situation like never before: people live longer, much longer lives. This means they have time to go bonkers while lacking other options, because they are bored.
In such conditions, in my opinion, the solution is a return to the classics. Go back to the Bible, the Ancient Testament without the need to go mystical. The purpose is to re-establish some mental order and bring clarity to why we are here, why we live, what is the purpose of life. All cosmic questions that afflicted the human kind from it’s inception. Above all the idea is to restore peace of mind and look at the many things worth pursuing. There can be many examples, I will start with this one : look after your grandchildren and enjoy them while they grow up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Josef Oskar
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

A stupendously terrifying essay. I will not eat the bugs.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

I expect most of us would if we had to. BBQ flavour or salt and vinegar?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

I’ve eaten bugs, the grasshoppers in Asia were quite tasty

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 year ago

The issue this article addresses I think of as lopsided thinking. Individual’s forming an opinion on something with incomplete information, inadequate analysis and biases. The problem is that it has grown with the complexity of life and education exacerbates it. Both in making life more complex and in making participants think they can form an opinion without actually equipping them to do so.
An example is the stop oil campaigners. Their objective is to reduce the use of fossil fuel but their actions are not thought through. There is a dependance on fossil fuels and the vast majority of the supply is beyond their reach. Curtailing a small part of that supply will push up prices, a little, that might make a small reduction in fossil fuel use, but it will increase the revenues of the producers. To achieve their objective they should pushed for a carbon tax: it would increase consumer prices, reduce demand, reduce producer prices, reduce costs flowing out of the economy and provide revenues for alternatives – without the costs and anger at the disruption they cause.
A more damaging example is the own goal in oil and gas sanctions against Russia – increasing their revenues.
Every echo chamber suffers from lopsided thinking and the confrontational nature of politics perpetuates and amplifies it, with lazy and sanctimonious arguments.
Unherd’s mission is to challenge lopsided thinking but its success will depend on it not itself becoming an echo chamber.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon Hawksley
Chris Keating
Chris Keating
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

To a degree, but it is not so much the lopsided thinking but the unjoined thinking where everything is held in isolation from everything else, so obvious connections are not made or if they are, they are ignored as they don’t fit the narrative.
A lot of this in my view is due to the preponderance of lawyers that contaminate the Anglosphere whereby they assume away or try to hide evidence in pursuit of a plausible case for their preconceived brief. Science does not allow that sophistry as all factors need to be taken into account.
The adversarial nature of Anglosphere societies in everything from politics to law does not engender any idea that the truth is ever sought, in fact much effort is exercised to hide the truth, so we are always dealing with only a mediated partial version of the problem that is being confronted

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

“An example is the stop oil campaigners. Their objective is to reduce the use of fossil fuel”
Every single initiative carried out by that lobby – whether cycle lanes and lane closures that have INCREASED vehicle congestion, neglect of public transport, stopping nuclear and propagating “biomass” – has had the opposite effect of what they claim to want.

It’s partly sheer dumbness and stupidity on the part of people who think they are really smart.

But the fact that so many of these people are hypocrites – pretty much every one of them would take regular flight holidays and use cars- and refuse to oppose the likes of China, really makes wonder if their objective is merely self aggrandisement and narcissistic pleasure, showing how “noble” and virtuous they are while indulging in the sadistic pleasure of disrupting people’s lives.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

You may well be right that they’re efforts are self defeating. But maybe a little harsh on their motivations. They’re willing to go to jail in order to (as they see it) do their bit to save the planet.

Dominic S
Dominic S
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

They whinge and moan and shriek and cry if they think they might actually go to jail. They’ll happily trot off to court for a bit of publicity, but actually getting locked up? No, they don’t want any of that.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

As of now, climate change activists don’t seem keen on giving up their private jets. Over 400 of them landed in Egypt, apparently.

Erich Manning
Erich Manning
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Yet they also don’t have to work to put food on the table. All rise, the middle class protester with too much time on his hands wearing clothes made from crude oil. using a phone made from crude oil and getting to the place of protest on transport made of crude oil

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I think of them in the same way I think of comic con nerds: it is their social life. Only the cosplay is different: comic con nerds dress up like their favorite manga characters or superheroes. Eco weirdos pretend they are a Cause. And the Earth’s environment does what it’s always done – it changes, no matter what we little temporary inhabitants do.

Ruth Ross
Ruth Ross
1 year ago

Finally. Acknowledgement that the climate does what it always has – changes. My thinking aligns with that of Michael D. Shellenberger, an eco modernist and writer of Apocalypse Never and San Fran Sicko.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Ross

Mine too.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
1 year ago

Moi aussi.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Thought provoking as always from Paul Kingnorth. There is this, though:

“What the Fourth Revolutionaries never seem to grasp is that the question you ask will frame the philosophy you develop. If your question is “how can we remove all this atmospheric carbon to avoid what these computer models say is coming?” then the answer can only lead you to a globalised technocracy. If, on the other hand, the question you ask is “how can we build lives which offer us meaning, in alliance with the rest of nature?” then you may be led in a very different direction.”

There’s a third question: “How can we maintain the trajectory of freedom and prosperity that has defined the modern age while repairing the damage we’ve done to the planet so far and not doing any more of it in future?”

This third question is put by people like me, who would prefer to respect nature from a distance in the certainty that I’m doing it no harm. Most people are actually like this: we don’t want to live immersed in nature the way our ancesters did, because we know that it’s a world of crushed horizons. The article implies that we have a choice between a machine green future in which we’re urbanised and eating synthetic food, and a retrograde green future in which we consume less and live in alliance with nature, the presumption being that the existing model in which we dominate the land for westernised diets and lifestyles must be forcibly ended.

There is of course a valid point that there may be no looming climate emergency requiring such a response – I take that view myself but for the sake of argument I’ll run with the article’s narrative. So assuming that we need a transformative fourth revolution encompassing economics, technology, and politics, are we faced with the binary choice described above? I say no, we’re not.

On present trajectory and without any need for any sort of revolution, humanity is already learning to prosper without undue cost and damage to the planet. Existing farming techniques, especially in conjunction with genetic modification technology for both arable and livestock farming, is producing more food off less land, and we are only at the beginning of what’s possible here. The same applies to energy: existing nuclear power technology – ie not including the holy of grail of hydrogen fusion – is capable of completely replacing the world’s energy sources many times over, if we are willing to decide to pursue it.

And there can be a place in the future for lab-grown protein in the same way that there’s a place right now for processed foods: nobody says we have to live exclusively on such foods, yet most of us choose to eat them every so often anyway. Synthetic protein needn’t replace traditional farming any more than frozen supermarket burgers have replaced steaks – the implied binary choice doesn’t exist and never has to exist. There is a future in which we remain free, and enjoy continuously growing prosperity and consumer choice, on a clean planet that is not suffering from our presence. There is some technological progress required still before we get there, true, but none of it’s moonshot stuff, it’s all viable.

Finally, I’m not sure I agree about who’s an eco-fascist and who isn’t, particularly if the question is to be settled by asking the people in question for their own view on the subject. The one thing all fascists of today have in common, whether they’re eco-activists, BLM activists, gender-ideologues or just plain old-fashioned collectivists, is that they think they stand in opposition to fascism. It’s due to the post-War success of Progressivism in painting the horrors of the 20th century as right-wing that’s to blame here: as long as modern political activists can claim to hate racism and right-wingers under the convenient flag of opposing “hate” (what a wonderfully nebulous concept that is), they can comfortably compartmentalise the world in ways that permit them to be as nasty as they like and still possess a clear conscience. It seems very obvious to me that the eco-fascists of today are easily identifiable: they’re the ones vandalising the economy by blocking roads and ruining livelihoods. The fact that they all doubtless would screech with rage at the accusation they’re fascists is irrelevant: it’s what they DO that matters, not what they say.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Great post.
You highlighted how left took over narrative over fascism.
Whereas it was communism which was responsible for many more deaths and misery for humanity.
What is amazing, but left is in denial about it, how much progress former Soviet Block countries made when freed from yoke of lefties policies.
Just look at GDP data.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

One of the most successful lies in modern history. All big State ideologies are left-wing, the labels don’t matter. The Fascism of the 1930’s was big State, and so is the eco-fascism, race-fascism and trans-rights-fascism of today.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I applaud the sanity of your comment, but unfortunately the activists of various stripes are too focused on their witch hunts to be derailed by mere rationality.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Excellent comment. If only the ruling elite were so clear headed.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

The more I read the more I was amused. Of course your views on how life on Earth should be organised are so very much better than those of the others in the “ Green Movement”.

People’s Judean Front vs the Judean People’s Front vs People’s Front of Judea indeed.

Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Perhaps Stan/Loretta could have that baby after all…
But what a future it would face!

Simon James
Simon James
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Okay, that joke works here. But fair play to the author, at least he’s bringing his own material to this debate.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Large majorities of even conservative voters support green policies both in UK & GB, so not sure we really have a Life of Brian situation here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Adam Bartlett
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

I dispute that. People support green economics in theory. They do not support any of it as soon as they are forced to accept a fall in their standard of living. This is not due to selfishness or laziness: it is simply how sane people react to being asked to make sacrifices they regard as pointless, and almost every sacrifice we are asked to make is indeed pointless because it will not make any difference. We can choose in the West to impoverish ourselves if we want, but doing so merely moves demand for high consumption lifestyles to other parts of the planet. It cannot actually be stopped.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Says who? The meeja.. that is who!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

If, perish the thought, one attempts to engage any eco sandaloid zealot in any form of debate, discussion or polemic, one rapidly discovers that it is utterly pointless, as they will not answer any simple questions that challenge their faux religious doctrine.

There are clearly different evidence based arguments, but based on real knowledge and understanding of complex scientific phenomena that, as an example, I and 99 pc of most people are simply not qualified to understand:

The algorithm driven internet serves to give people what they believe is ” knowledge” about a subject that is way beyond their intellectual analysis capability.

For proof of this in other fields, one has to look no further than comments and views on this normally august medium on economics and government finances and borrowing: people express views and opinions which display clearly that they have no understanding or knowledge of how bond and capital markets work.

It is critical that all opinions should be freely expressed, in order that ignorance should be publicly displayed, BUT… on climate change, disagreement with the shoe size iq zombie lemmings is verboten… therein lies the problem!

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

Now I remember why I signed up for unherd.
Paul Kingsnorth.
Shame there’s so much other drudge on here.
Thank you Paul for your ability to keep a consistent and sane viewpoint through these everchanging and always the same times.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

I signed up for him directly at Abbey of Misrule after reading “The Cross and the Machine.” His writing is always interesting, although I can’t figure out exactly what he wants from us, and I suspect if he just came out and told us in plain language I might not be willing to follow him there.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Dawn McD

Sure you would: he has ‘united with nature’* and sees its myriad benefits: and being the decent chap he is he wants us to do the same..
* needs a lot more explaining of course but I believe that’s the gist of it. There is of course a spiritual element that informs his deep wisdom.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

Hear, hear! Paul is a rock of sense among a vast sea of useless pebbles..

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

What unites Monbiot and so many of the green elite is less a concern for the environment than a bitter hatred of democracy. Government must be left to the people who know best – and an environmental ‘crisis’ is the perfect opportunity to remove vast areas of state policy from the purview of elected politicians. They represent the greatest threat to pluralism that we have faced since the 1930s.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

More a hatred of other people – not them of course, other people.

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Terrell

“L’enfer, c’est les autres.” — Sartre?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I hope you don’t mind me saying: that is the greatest load of tosh I’ve heard in a long time. If you still believe government knows best where in God’s name are you living? Clearly some other planet…

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago

Brilliant piece

Ian Wray
Ian Wray
1 year ago

Eco-fascism does not exist? Really? What else does one call the increasingly authoritarian control of people’s lives by the rich and powerful, under the rationales of ‘climate change’ and ‘environmentalism’. What else to call their undermining of affordable energy supplies for the rest of us, because of a supposed ‘climate catastrophe’? What else to call their war on farmers, be that in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Holland or elsewhere, for supposed environmental reasons? Or their war on people being able to use affordable transport? And eugenics, with its fear-driven desire for ‘population control’, has been a strand in environmentalism since at least the development of the Club of Rome.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Authoritarianism =/= fascism

David Yetter
David Yetter
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Of course, if you (as I would prefer) want to use “fascist” to mean an advocate of a political program actually analogous to Mussolini’s union of state and corporate power, eco-fascism exists. It’s only if one keeps “fascist” as a pejorative for anything one doesn’t like and thinks is on the political right that one can’t find any eco-fascists to speak of.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Distortion isuch too small a word for your contribution. Your points are clear answers desperately seeking real questions!

Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
1 year ago

Using the same logic as the WEF, et.al. there can be no objection to cannibalism – after all, this would save CO2 by recycling protein, fat and other nutrients.
In fact, once you get rid of old-fashioned irrationality, there can be no objection to mass extermination. This of course would save the planet by reducing consumption at source.
In case you think that this idea is beyond the pale in certain quarters, look at this article by fashionable metrosexual Matthew Parris:
https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/soon-we-will-accept-that-useless-lives-should-end/

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Jonathan Swift got there centuries earlier with his ‘modest proposal’.
He intended it as satire.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

I met a vegan who claimed they would rather eat people than animals although they were under the delusion that they would be given a choice and would be eating rich people. I smiled politely knowing it would be more likely her benefit drawing family on the menu and my husband piped up that we’d be eating the vegans who are at least grass fed, lol.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago

A brave and highly disturbing piece from an insider in the green movement. It brings coherence to the various strands of this dystopian future that have been forming before our eyes, where we haven’t quite been able to understand clearly how they all fit together.
This article demonstrates the link between the pandemic and climate change as trojan horses of control, used by the technocratic uber-class to impose their authoritarian vision upon a (mostly) unsuspecting and passive world.
I think I’ll change my handle to Winston Smith.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Or perhaps David Icke? Are we saying crazy David was right all along? ..apart from the lizard thing of course.. but wait: lizards are green and heartless.. wow! seens like he got that right too! Run: run for your lives!

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

CO2 is a trace gas and it vital to all life on earth.
CO2 actually greens the planet.
97% of CO2 is of natural origin.
None of this is driven by science.
This is about control and is driven by politicians,
not science.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Why mark the post down ?
FACTS.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Well said, FACTS beat fiction every time!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Not when they’re based on half-assed assumptions! A little learning is a dangerous thing!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

You are obviously not familiar with the concept of ‘tipping point’. Think of straw-laden camels and you’ll get it! CO² production is indeed 97% natural and the planet’s vegetation absorbs it in a wonderfully balanced ecosystem. The problem is that that delicate balance is now disturbed and all of the extra CO² we produce is superfluous to Giai’s needs and is accumulating in the atmosphere preventing another delicately balanced ecosystem from functioning, namely the (natural heating +) dissipation of that heat.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

People use the term ‘eco-fascism’ because it is easier to say than ‘eco-authoritarian’ or ‘eco-totalitarian.’ There are plenty of Greens who support the appointment of delegates to ‘citizens assemblies’ that will overrule MPs who have been elected democratically. See the Green Party manifesto.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Anyone concerned with living under a market driven totalitarian regime? No? I’d rather serve an environmental tyrant than a market driven tyrant any day.. but then I’m not an obscenely rich oligarch nor one of their Tory puppets.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago

“Ideologies are never interested in the miracle of being.”

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Sounds about right: who are you quoting btw? or is it merely your own wisdom?

Glyn R
Glyn R
1 year ago

I fear the devastating consequences the Fourth Revolution will undoubtedly unleash on the mass of humanity will make China’s Great Leap Forward appear relatively benign. The hubris and arrogance of the likes of Gates, Schwab, Monbiot etc make them extremely dangerous and yet they and their like have seized the controls. God help us.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Glyn R

They haven’t really. They want to of course but they are very far from doiing so! Relax.

Will Cummings
Will Cummings
1 year ago

We know how to do things but we’ve forgotten why. By way of metaphor: We’ve become so proficient at algorithms for graphic imaging, so focused on the effort to control and manipulate the movement of pixels on a screen that we can no longer perceive the story the images were intended to convey. Why are we saving the earth and for whom are we saving it?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Will Cummings

The Earth will be perfectly happy as a ball of molten lava or a frozen snowball ..for a million or so years: just as it was eons ago. The Earth is at zero risk! It is we humans that are at risk silly! Just like any other species we may find our habitat doesn’t sustain us. Like any other species we’ll do what we can to compensate and some of us will survive at least for a while.. We’ve been around as a species for what? A few hundred thousand years? We’ve been poisoning our environment for maybe 200 years? We’ll be extinct in maybe the next 200 years? That must make us the least successful species to ever inhabited this fabulous planetary home. What a dreadful blight we have been! The rest of nature will breath a huge sigh of relief at the end of our very, very brief existence..

Gavin Thomas
Gavin Thomas
1 year ago

Don’t worry folks – according the latest IPCC report the Earth has experienced a 70% increase in ‘greening’ over the last 40 years…
…must be due to minute increase in CO2 (+0.01% or +100ppm) over the same period.
However, the poly tunnel farmers know a thing or two about CO2 and crop growth where they pump it in at over 1500ppm! More CO2 = more vegetation = more crops = more food!
Oh, and a 2015 scientific study found NO relationship between CO2 and the Earth’s temperature! Buried, of course.
For 95% of the last 2000 years the Earth has been considerably warmer than it is now. From the Roman Warm Period to the Mini Ice Age (which we are just leaving) the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is clearly what’s driving any climate change – not puny humans.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Gavin Thomas

Bravo!

Johnny West
Johnny West
1 year ago

What I dont understand with these kinds of flourishes is why the underlying assumption is always that it has to be either/or. Sceptics brandish Ice Age cycles, the Sun getting hotter over geological time, as though the simple fact of their existence is some kind of stunning rebuttal of either the existence of anthropogenic climate change or its siognificance. It is indeed true, for example, that we are heading towards an Ice Age, perhaps in the next thousand years, perhaps even sooner! What difference does that make to our thinking about how to avoid levels of global warming which could be ruinous to modern civilisation in the coming decades? It’s a bit like saying, oh my cat was freezing in the snow outside so I’m going to warm him up in the microwave – it’s no problem because his average temperature is going to be room temperature. Relax! Don’t be such a doomsayer… Look, here’s a snowball, what rot global warming is (etc etc)…

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Johnny West

All true of course.. but not what the deniers want to hear as evidenced by your poor tick score! Nice to see a rare voice of reason on this site..

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I could not cope with an early autumn afternoon without the sniff of diesel fumes, as the horse boxes, Land Cruisers, Hi Luxes and Land Rovers tug themselves out of the mud at the end of a days Hunting…

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Electric cars are all but useless in the country.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Horses are the ideal solution! They worked fine for thousands of years! I’m serious btw..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Gavin Thomas

Please list the full title of that ‘2015 scientific study’ so the rest of us can see the light..

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
1 year ago

This article is hopelessly confused. There is a fundamental difference between conventional environmentalist, who view humans as a pest that need to be controlled are are suspicious of new human technology, and ecomodernists, who believe that we should use evidence-based methods to exploit technology to minimise harm to the planet, while allowing humans to living reasonable lives. The focus of ecomodernists is on science, reason, and maintaining human well being along with planetary well being. They focus, for example, on using the most efficient methods for producing energy and food. This will reduce environmental impact while allowing humans to have energy and food in abundance.
Most ordinary people are ecomodernists at heart. They want to preserve nature but do not reject human technology, or think humans are a pest.
Unfortunately environmental organizations, often funded by commercial interests, have waged long misinformation campaigns against more efficient energy and agricultural technology, large motivated by the fact that these advances would lead to more humans. Since they cannot use this argument they makes absurd claims about the risks of new technology, such as nuclear power and plant altered by modern precise genetic techniques. The successful of these campaigns has been astonishing and has done terrible harm.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

“…and ecomodernists, who believe that we should use evidence-based methods to exploit technology to minimise harm to the planet, while allowing humans to living reasonable lives.”

The point here is that the prepend “eco” is irrelevant if the aim you describe here is sincere. Technological progress delivers on this promise anyway, irrespective of whether there’s a political agenda helping it along or, as is more usually the case, getting in the way while making a lot of fuss and bother for everyone else.

If it wasn’t for the activists of the previous generation, we would have fleets of nuclear power stations right now and we would have no energy crisis. All that was required was for them to shut up and get proper jobs. As it is, here we are. What a mess.
As to the rest of your comment, I agree wholly and you’re completely right.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Surely, real question is not why eco nutters have particular agenda, but why supposedly Conservative governments of the last 12 years had done nothing about addressing the energy issues?

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

No. It’s almost completely irrelevant to the thread. I can only imagine you’re bringing it up out of a desire to do a bit of Tory bashing.

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

The tories have unfortunately been lead up the garden path by people arguing that the cheapest form of energy is renewable energy and nuclear is too expensive. The pro-nuclear types have been fairly quiet while the fossil fuel and renewable lobby have attacked nuclear power far more viciously than each other. Labour are unlikely to have done any better, from what I have heard and read about their policies.
We needed to experience energy poverty in order to shock people into common sense policies. These include investing in gas so we can heat houses (and balance renewables) and replace fossil fuels and eventually renewables with nuclear force for electricity generation. This will make electricity cheap and plentiful, after which we ill be motivated to switch to electricity for heating (heat pumps) and transport.

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The point of the ecomodernist manifesto was to provide a home for environmentalist who actually like humans and embrace evidence and reason. The label has alienated both environmentalists, who dislike the ‘modernist’ part, and their opponents, who dislike the ‘eco’. I think most reasonable people would embrace it if they could get past the title….

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

Great essay.
But Monbiots vision of “the end of farming as we know it” won’t lead to rewilding anything. All that land will need to be covered in photo electric cells if we’re ever going to have enough clean electricity.
Also, “efficiency”, which is at the heart of all of these nightmare-ish plans, is a fundamental harm to human existence. A certain amount of inefficiency is necessary to provide meaningful and profitable work. We all know that sitting around twittling our thumbs is not a healthy way to live.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Agree 100%. I’ve seen a bit of this online commentary about “efficiency” lately and the context is often chilling, for instance the idiot who replied to one of my comments on Facebook by pointing out that the habit of people to get into their cars and go where they want whenever they feel like it, isn’t “efficient”.

There seems no way to me that anyone could take such a view without first presuming that we all exist merely to be regimented and orchestrated from above. Nowhere did it occur to him that although you could achieve the same amount of transport activity via centrally controlled communitarian transport using less energy, you would be making people travel to places and at times that they didn’t actually want or need to.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You need to go back to the drawing board and recalculate.. and re-evaluate: above all you need to distinguish needs from wants.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

No, actually, it is you who needs to accept that you have no right to separate needs from wants when they are other peope’s needs and wants. For yourself, fine, but for anyone else you need a lesson in minding your own damn business.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

You focus too much on assumed needs. That assumption is mistaken.. muc¹h of our need for power is to consume what we don’t need and much of that is harmful.. to live without ‘debt’ can be achieved by reducing our consumption (eliminating ‘wants’, ie not real needs) as well as by increasing our incomes. Indeed the former is usually easier. Easiest of all is the reduction of waste.. made do, mend, refuce, reuse, recycle…

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Deep Scotia, to this day, worships at the idol of the ancient god, Thrift. In my more immediate ancestors’ minds, I am reasonably sure, in the house of many mansions, every one of them somewhere had a clothes line, with teabags drying. It improves character, as a unifying approach to life. In the greater galactic evolution I doubt it changes a thing.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
1 year ago

National Conservatism or the New Right is the nearest we have to a rightwing version of political ecology.

Political ecology is the study of the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes. This includes human orientated population ecology which is a sub-field of ecology that deals with the dynamics of species populations and how these populations interact with the environment, such as birth and death rates, and by immigration and emigration.

The main difference between leftwing and rightwing political ecology is that the former is generally global in its scope with an emphasis on a global community and technocratic governance and the latter is generally national in its scope with an emphasis on a national community and democratic governance.

This highlights why cultural concerns are so important to the New Right, including balkanised multiculturalism and onshoring foreign cultures. Economic and ecological concerns also predominate in terms of sustainability, resilience, sufficiency and reliance, in order to address survival anxieties, which is why the ideal of Britain as a liberal global trading powerhouse does not particularly resonate with National Conservatives in general.

In this respect, what the New Right needs to better define and articulate itself is the structure of political ecology with sub-fields such as population ecology to address domain concerns such as social stability and integration via cultural institutions.

Ultimately, the national economy works like an ecosystem with energy and material throughput being determined by the rate, route and efficiency of energy transfers. Hence the survival anxiety concerns about Net Zero and curbing population growth, with the latter demanding an increase in import dependencies and therefore increased vulnerability to negative global supply shocks. Hence an emphasis on reshoring essential goods and services, protection for domestic farming, a fair distribution of wealth (or distributism) and a willingness to support and fight for national defence, especially within the context of an uncertain global future.

All this requires cultural cohesion and a strong national identity in which to foster an interdependent and interconnected sense of community which in evolutionary biological terms is the equivalent of increasing the fitness of the tribe.

Nic Cowper
Nic Cowper
1 year ago

That is a truly great closing sentence. Good argument sir…

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
1 year ago

Good article. There is a limit to technical solutions to every problem. It is far from clear as to how humanity will cope if and when increased solar radiation fries our radio and computer networks which are quite vulnerable to these interruptions.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

We are entering a period of REDUCED solar activity.
Get it right.

Ruud van Man
Ruud van Man
1 year ago

What matters now, as he [Monbiot] explains, is mathematics: “It’s time we became obsessed by numbers…” ‘ Five-year plans for tractor production, perhaps?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruud van Man

I believe Paul’s point is that the ‘superiority’ or glorification of numbers is the problem. It is clear that maths are vital but only as subservient to wisdom: numbers are a small but important input into the ‘wisdom’ project..

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
1 year ago

Have you ever seen a genuine climate scientist on TV? No, me neither. The only people pushing the narrative are activists who know very little about the science.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Morris

It is not in the nature of serious scientists to appear on TV.. we would all die of mesmerism as they tried to explain the immense complexity to us mere mortals. So it is for others who are midway between high science and TV presenter to simplify it for us. Provided the presenter losts his sources and quotes honestly that is thd best we can hope for.