The downfall of capitalism will not come from the uprising of the poor working class but from the subversion of the bored upper class. This was the view of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter believed that at some point in the future, the educated elite would have nothing to fight against. to Instead they will begin to struggle against the very system in which they themselves live.
Nothing makes me think Schumpeter was right like the contemporary climate movement and its followers. The green movement is not a reflection of the planetary crisis as many in the media and culture like to portray, but rather a crisis of meaning for the wealthy.
Take, for example, a recent interview with Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich CBS‘s 60 minutes. Ehrlich is best known for his career as a professional doom dealer. his first major book, The population bomb He gave us eternally false predictions, including that by the 1980s hundreds of millions of people would starve to death and it went downhill from there. Ehrlich assured us that England would not exist in the year 2000, that even modern fertilizers would not enable us to feed the world, and that thermonuclear power was about to happen.
Ehrlich, who recently turned 90, is in the fortunate position of witnessing the complete failure of all his predictions – only to double them in 60 minutes Interview Ehrlich has been wrong on every public policy issue he has spoken on for nearly 60 years, yet the mainstream media still treats him like a recent revelation.
The best answer to that question comes courtesy of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who famously said in 2019: “I think there are a lot more people who are more interested in being accurate, factual, and moral than in being morally right.” In other words, no matter what nonsense one spews, as long as it is “morally correct,” it doesn’t matter what the facts show.
Like the prophet of any religion, Ehrlich is not there to explain the world but to promote the preferred upper-class worldview of an imminent end of the world, something that can only be prevented if we fundamentally change the way we live. Of course, by “we,” they actually mean “you.” It’s not the Tesla driving the AOC or the Stanford professor Ehrlich who will adapt their lifestyles, but the working and middle class rupees who supposedly eat a lot of meat, drive a lot of miles on gas guzzling cars, or even book a ride Occasional flight to go on vacation.
This was perfectly exemplified by climate czar and multi-millionaire John Kerry who boarded his family’s private jet to attend a climate change conference in Iceland in 2019. When asked by reporters how his climate activism could fit into the use of private jets, he seemed confused; After all, Kerry explained, “it’s the only option for someone like me traveling the world to win this fight” against climate change.
Even supposed grassroots movements like “Just Stop Oil” or the “Last Generation” (of “tomato soup on plates” fame) are actually funded by millionaires, such as Aileen Getty, granddaughter of legendary oilman Jean Paul Getty, and the Climate Emergency Fund. .
Just like Kerry, Ehrlich and these other groups are not really interested in solving the problem of climate change – for example, promoting research into technologies such as nuclear power, carbon capture technologies and adaptations. Instead, they have elevated their struggle to an artificial religion that allows them to simultaneously enjoy their wealth and lecture the rest of the world from a position of moral superiority.
They are pouring money into the effort, German journalist Axel Bojanowski has pointed out, to a degree that makes the oil lobby blush. At the Climate Action Summit in 2018, 24 billionaire-backed foundations pledged $4 billion to lobby for climate change. Some, such as the Hewlett Foundation, directly fund journalists at the Hewlett Foundation News agency for “Climate Reporting,” while foundations associated with the Packard and Rockefeller families support the journalistic endeavor Covering Climate Now, which “collaborates with journalists and newsrooms to produce more informed and compelling climate stories” and funds hundreds of media outlets.
One would assume that the journalistic class that prides itself on constantly speaking truth to power would object to billionaires talking money to promote their own interests, but the opposite is true. And this makes perfect sense, since contemporary media is ideologically in the same camp as the billionaire class; They enjoy lecturing the rest of society just as much as Ehrlich and his followers.
Contrary to climate extremists and their virtue signals, the world they are trying to create would be devastating to the poorest people on the planet. Ending poverty and improving living conditions can only be achieved through access to energy in all its forms and petrochemical processes enabled by fossil fuels – the production of fertilizers for food and plastics for medical equipment.
“Just stop the oil” will not stop climate change as quickly as humans do. To add insult to injury, this activism seems to have no shred of sympathy for all the human suffering caused by their pet projects, from child labor in the cobalt mines (needed for batteries) in the Congo to forced labor in the photovoltaic production process in China, to the environmental damage caused. on lithium mining in Chile.
This is not about the planet. It is about the boredom of the bourgeoisie. And they don’t care who pays to mitigate it.
Ralf Schoelhammer is Assistant Professor of Economics and Political Science at Webster University, Vienna.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.