At a press conference in Brussels in early February 2015, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated publicly what many climate realists had long suspected: The global warming scaremongering going on for more than 25 years was not really about protecting the planet, it was about controlling peoples’ lives by controlling the economy.
Recently, others have highlighted the anti-capitalist progressive agenda that motivates climate alarmism. For instance, professors Joshua Goldstein and Steven Pinker described in a Boston Globe editorial how alarmists are attempting, under the guise of fighting climate change, to cure a laundry list of “longstanding social ills such as inequality, corporate greed, racism, and political corruption. ... Naomi Klein’s campaign to ‘change everything’ casts global warming as an opportunity for the left to step up its various crusades.”
Along these same lines, the Financial Post published an excerpt from Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change, by Michael Hart, a professor emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa. Hart argues progressives see the supposed threat of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change as providing the opportunity to tackle such UN perennials as population control, income redistribution, gender inequality, and sustainable development.
According to Hart, the UN Paris climate conference is the culmination of a 70-year-long concerted effort to cajole member governments into adopting a new world economic order cloaking progressive normative aims in the mantle of science. As evidence, Hart cites the assertion of climate researcher Mike Hulme from the UK’s University of East Anglia: “‘We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us. … Rather than trying to ‘solve’ climate change … we need to approach climate change as an imaginative idea, an idea that we develop and employ to fulfill a variety of tasks for us. Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our projects.’”
More misanthropic environmentalists see preventing climate change as serving an even more radical agenda than wealth redistribution: They want deindustrialization and decline. For them, Hart notes:
even switching to new forms of energy is problematic because it delays de-industrializing advanced economies.James Speth, a leading American environmentalist, maintains that: “The prioritization of economic growth is among the roots of our problems.” [and] Malthusian, Bill McKibben, adds in a familiar lament: “growth may be the one big habit we finally must break.” For anti-growth environmentalists, industrialization, capitalism, and population growth are the satanic trinity that must be exorcised in order for the planet to survive. In their view, even sustainable development places too great a burden on the planet.
The new economic order would involve granting more power to unelected international governing bodies, massive increases in government regulatory control leading to significant costs for economies, and, ultimately, significant losses in individual liberty.
What’s really at stake in Paris is personal freedom and the possibility of a more prosperous future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.
H. Sterling Burnett is a Senior Fellow at the Illinois based Heartland Institute.