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Whereas a virus...

29 Jan 2020 | OP ED Watch

The weird let’s-hear-it-for-China’s-environmental-policy drumbeat continues. On Watt’s Up With That Eric Worrall notes Financial Times national editor and columnist Edward Luce arguing (here, paywalled) that democracies are bad at dealing with issues. Specifically climate change. Well sure. Whereas, as is well known, dictatorships can turn on a dime and go green, quarantine entire cities and spray them with ineffective disinfectant, build instant hospitals and tell big lies and shoot those who ask questions. Who wouldn’t want them in charge of the world’s energy supplies?

Luce’s specific complaint is that “Harrowing images of Australian bushfires and Californian wildfires should be blowing a hole in such complacency [about climate]. But they also crystallise how hard it is for democracies to mobilise public action. If images of Sydney enshrouded in smoke, or Napa Valley in flames, cannot arouse the voter’s imagination, what will?”

What indeed? As he goes on to admit, the problems are short-sighted politicians, skeptical voters and “human nature”, as people “find the fact that a 17-year-old girl is lecturing grown-ups on climate change more grating than the likely extinction of the Great Barrier Reef”.

Well, nostra culpa. One minute we’re told nobody who’s not a scientist is allowed to have an opinion, and the next a guy with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics (we didn’t know it was a discipline) and “a post-graduate diploma in newspaper journalism” tells us to listen to a high school kid famous for skipping class and for some reason we get irritated. Moreover we find said columnist telling us democracies have flubbed the great challenges of public policy over the last 200 years while dictatorships nailed it so annoying that we can’t focus on the substance of… oh wait. It was the substance that annoyed us.

For instance, the idea that Australia’s bushfires are proof positive of the evils of greenhouse gases, like the Amazon fires last year, fails to convince us because the big fires are where the most tinder had accumulated due to bad forest management practices, not the places where it’s hottest. (Also Australia is getting wetter not drier, but climate alarmism can explain anything and exploit it after the fact.) Likewise the California wildfires were due to bad management and have stopped.

So has the extinction of the Great Barrier Reef, come to think of it. And of the polar bears. And winter. But you know, in a dictatorship such considerations wouldn’t matter. So let’s hear it for… democracy.

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