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Environmentalism: a dangerous yet seductive nonsense

Theodore Dalrymple foi a um bar para saber o que pensar os membros do grupo ambientalista radical Extinction Rebellion (foto).

Theodore Dalrymple went to a bar to find out what the members of the radical environmental group Extinction Rebellion (photo) thought.| Photo: Bigstock

) Extinction Rebellion is a movement by British environmentalists who allow themselves to take action, i.e. block roads and stop trains, often angering the rest of the community. population that may be facing upheavals because of the protests. Extinction Rebellion members, generally educated middle class people, are so convinced that humanity’s survival is threatened by anthropogenic climate change that non-violent illegal actions are justified.

The movement decided to open a branch in the small town where I live in England and I went to the opening ceremony in a bar. Aside from the coordinator and a few shy young bearded men, the eight other members present at the party were middle-aged or elderly people — which is quite unusual in a movement of activists or would-be activists.

I was surprised to realize how much I liked them. Obviously they were good, kind and also intelligent people. They were explicitly leftists, but I don’t look forward to the day when I’m going to dislike people just because they have different opinions than I do.

The coordinator was a woman in her early thirties who proudly said that she had just come from a protest — in this case, the group spilled a black substance resembling petroleum at the headquarters of a bank, the biggest financier of the oil and gas industries in the UK. She didn’t say if she was arrested during the act, but Extinction Rebellion members don’t usually try to evade the police. They accept and even seek legal action, although some of them were exonerated because the judge considered that they were acting in good faith.

Some things that those present proposed during the meeting made sense. Improving public transport seemed to me to be of paramount importance in a small country like the UK. This would certainly improve the quality of life immensely. It was when they started talking about “changing the system” that I started to feel at university, in the years 1970.

They demanded an end to carbon emissions by 2025, as well as the end of the use of fossil fuels. Until then, all electricity should be generated from renewable sources. The surprising thing is that no one seems to have stopped to think about the consequences of this: energy rationing, houses without heating, cold showers, the end of transport and vehicular distribution, the end of industrial production, and so on. For them, climate change is infinitely more real and more important than the consequences of these demands. They showed an almost religious fervor.

They also didn’t stop to think that nothing what the UK does will make the slightest difference, even if the country stops emitting excess carbon dioxide and even if the climate change theory is absolutely correct. What if they tried to pour oil-like substances into the headquarters of a Chinese bank?

Surprisingly, not even the current situation in the world crossed their minds. Although, if they had thought about it, they would no doubt say that the current situation only confirms their opinion that we should stick to renewable energy sources. They gave a new meaning to the expression “fighting windmills”.

) I left the meeting early, knowing that nonsense is dangerous, but also feeling a strange affection for those people. They wanted, as maybe we all want (although some know it’s impossible), a world where you don’t have to make concessions to get what you want.

Theodore Dalrymple is a contributor to the City Journal, a member from the Manhattan Institute and author of several books.

©2022 City Journal. Published with permission. Original in English
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