Extinction Rebellion, which may soon become Incarceration Rebellion, marches with a banner saying “Socialism or Extinction” complete with hammer and sickle. It is a mystery why this emblem of repression, warmongering and genocide remains at all cool while a swastika is rightly taboo, let alone why it would appeal to greens given the Soviet Union’s atrocious environmental record. But there does seem to be a kind of potent pull to the left among climate alarmists, almost as if they wanted to prove the old “watermelon” jibe true. Nature magazine runs a piece by UN advisor Denise Garcia of Northeastern University urging governments to divert military spending to “stimulus packages for decarbonization, health, education and the environment.” And Patagonia clothing is evidently sewing rude political messages about climate into its shorts, so there’s a branding, tribal and get-to-say-bad-words-in-public component to it as well.
A spokesperson for Patagonia explains that “It refers to politicians from any party who deny or disregard the climate crisis and ignore science, not because they aren’t aware of it, but because their pockets are lined with money from oil and gas interests”. So there you have the classic progressive idea that the obstacle to achieving Nirvana is not real practical difficulties or legitimate confusion, but malevolence. Right there next to the skin.
Of course it may be claimed that these are climate-change-movement outliers, on the political fringe for Extinction Rebellion and the “Rebel sell” commercial margins for Patagonia. Moreover Extinction Rebellion may be increasingly evidently past its best-before date. But as with Greta Thunberg, whose fast-fading crusade was not repudiated by the supposed adults in that room, if you don’t disassociate yourself from this kind of rhetoric uttered in your name, when she jumps the shark she takes you along. And too many alarmists (as well as some skeptics, we concede unhappily) independently use reckless language to promote reckless ideas: for instance alarmist heavyweight Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, recently declared that “most climate deniers are sociopaths” which is not exactly constructive, while Michael Mann recently tweeted something about Tucker Carlson that was too offensive even to be used as one of our “Say What” quotations. You can check it out here but be warned that it is as obscene as it is discreditable.
If climate change is about not burning up the planet, we can debate facts and logic. But if it’s about eating the rich, overthrowing capitalism or crushing the oil cabal and its evil paid flunkies, if the alarmists resort to swearing, cancelling and the ideology of Noam Chomsky, if you practice appalling political and intellectual hygiene, there’s no good will on one side. And no historical awareness of the disastrous evils of communism and other forms of totalitarianism that sprang, in part, from an unwillingness to concede the sincerity of one’s opponents and, thus, their right to an opinion.
That way lies madness. Or marginalization. Or both.