This is the second part of a two-part series about contemporary politics of climate change. The first part can be found here.
By Fredrik Thool
The reason I have taken the time to write this short article-series, is because the climate change issue is, in many ways, exploited to make substantial political interferences in our daily lives. And very few people question it. It is used as an excuse to implement extensive regulation concerning everything from how we build our houses, to increasing taxation on fuel, travelling, and so on. This has many adverse effects and extensively interpreted it could be claimed to infringe on our fundamental constitutional right of freedom of movement. Not least to people outside of the big cities that are completely dependent on their cars, but also to a lot of middle-class families that are required to pay more than they would have to for goods, transport and services. This issue has made CO2 – the gas of life on which all living things depend – classified (in some countries) as a pollutant and converted it into a money-making commodity through the implementation of allowances. This ought to comprise enough reason to establish a genuine will of thorough scrutiny. Not as it has unfortunately become; ridicule and labelling of anyone who dares to ask questions.
The climate-debate needs to be seen in a wider context. A context where politics and populism seems to have partly prevailed the science. It has become a dangerous area to walk for someone who does not align himself with the general public consensus of man-made global warming. A minefield, so to speak, where one risks not only to be subjected to a flood of political condemnation – which is to be expected and fine in a society that is supposed to be defined by freedom of expression – but also to social expulsion on a personal level, and labels such as “climate change denier”, “science sceptic” and so forth. The problem with using such terms, is that they don’t mean anything. No one denies that there is a climate or that it is changing (that would be about equivalent to denying the existence of the sun), and it is unworthy to label people such terms. So, if one wants to make a fair point: get the terms right and do not subjugate people to such diminishing master suppression techniques.
These insults are mostly used by people who themselves have no insight in or understanding of the science behind what affects the climate, or what the criticism against the climate issue actually consists of. I have never heard any real scientist use such terms to address their opponents. The phenomena of turning rational and/or scientific debates into identity politics and personal endeavours of virtue signalling is a harmful, and unfortunately, a recurring one. Most prominently this has been present within the migration-debate (at least here in Sweden), where labels such as “racist”, “islamophobe”, “xenophobe” and so on, have been dominant for many years before suddenly a slightly more constructive debate became absolutely necessary as a result of the 2015, and still ongoing, migration crisis.
The same can be said regarding the reactions to Trump being elected as president in 2016 and regarding Brexit. Analysis as to why or how has mostly been absent, in favour of condemnations such as “what an idiot would vote for Trump or Johnson?”, which seems to be more instinctive reactions that are based on feelings rather than anything else. This rhetoric has been well established within public media as well as among the general public, and even within the universities. I have friends that have been explicitly called out as “racists” by their professors in front of their own classes at university level education. Universities are – among other things – supposed to be places for respectful exchange of opinion and ideas, not misused as institutions for politically correct indoctrination.
The one-eyed focus on climate change as the biggest issue there is to face, also means other issues do not get the attention they deserve. Environmental policy has almost become synonymous with battling climate change. For example, environmental issues related to the extraction of minerals included in lithium-ion batteries and the disposal of such batteries are seldom addressed. Wind-turbines kill thousands, if not millions, of birds and insects and constitute quite a substantial visual impact in the environment where they are established, which nowadays is almost everywhere.
The problems related to the fact that wind and solar energy only provide volatile energy or that they mess up the grid, is rarely discussed. Billions and billions are used to subsidise renewable energy while health-care systems struggle, pensions have stagnated, and millions of people still die from poverty related problems around the world. There are also huge problems related to plastic-litter in underdeveloped countries as a result of lack of infrastructure and poverty. The development of infrastructure and prosperous economies, however, is closely linked to the access of cheap energy. To this day, there is no reliable source of energy apart from nuclear and hydroelectric, that can compete with fossil fuel in terms of price, efficiency and reliability. Renewable energy is a western luxury, used to mitigate our feeling of guilt, no matter the cost, and climate change has become a religion, within which the modern atheist finds his sense of purpose and virtue.
Cover photo: Anne Spratt
Fredrik Thool is a law-student at Uppsala University with a BA in nautical sciences (i.e. ships´ officers degree). He has previously lived abroad, four years in Denmark and one and a half year in Spain. Future plans involve a few semesters of specialization within maritime law at the University of Oslo, after which he plans to take on the real world. Interests include skiing, cycling, excessive amounts of coffee and politics.