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There is only so much of this moralising one can take. In the run-up to COP26 we have been deluged with sanctimonious propaganda about the need for us to do more to save the planet.
“I am virtuous, therefore you must agree with me,” is the underlying message of these addresses. However much one has already done to reduce one’s carbon emissions, one has not done enough.
No point of adequate performance is recognised. We continually find ourselves coerced to do more.
This coercion is an insult. We are not treated as free people, capable of deciding things for ourselves, but as underlings who must submit to the instructions handed down by various prigs and preachers.
At best, we are treated like children, who must meekly submit to the wheedling exhortations of the grown ups, who declare themselves infallible.
Everything we were already doing which might be of some value is taken for granted, or ignored. Until a generation or two ago, it was unusual for houses in Britain to be warm in winter.
A certain proud frugality prevailed. One couldn’t afford to burn tons of coal, so one wore thick winter clothes, and plenty of them.
Any piece of clothing which had some wear left in it would be passed down to whoever was, or might become, roughly the right size to wear it.
Jam jars, milk bottles, biscuit tins, brown paper, string, a hundred other items were used over and over again as a matter of course.
No piece of food was wasted, and anything that could be repaired was repaired.
Here too a certain morality could be detected. As late as the 1960s, it seemed to those who had known the privations of the 1940s to be wrong to waste whatever the Merchant Navy had delivered at great sacrifice to these shores.
A generation or two ago, people also thought, not without reason, that the end of the world was nigh. Nuclear war, or over-population, or a new ice age might bring disaster.
Nobody knew for certain what the future held, but there were plenty of reasons for alarm.
So too today. Global warming is undoubtedly a reason for alarm. But dealing with it is almost impossible when newly industrialising countries such as China are so far from being either willing or able to stop burning coal.
As Charles Moore pointed out in last Saturday’s Telegraph,
“Environmentalism is often seen as a Left-wing cause, but Margaret Thatcher was the first leading world statesman to address global warming. As our first scientist prime minister, she was excited by the theory, propounding it to the Royal Society in 1988. The following year, she argued that the problem could be dealt with only through a global UN framework, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The challenge, she said, was ‘as great as any disarmament treaty’. She made that comparison because disarmament is worse than useless unless all parties really do disarm.”
Over three decades later, developing countries such as China and India show little inclination, when it comes to climate change, to disarm. That is why UN summits on climate change are held so frequently and achieve such disappointing results.
Yet to listen to our domestic propaganda, one would think the main problem is that the British public does not yet take a sufficiently enlightened approach.
For some reason, we have yet to rise up and rip out our gas boilers.
What an absurd displacement activity this virtuous babbling has become. The more John Bull shrugs his shoulders, and reaches for the off switch on his radio, the greater the burden of blame that is laid upon him.
In China, so far as one knows, no activists have yet glued themselves to the motorways; not, at least, since the horror 32 years ago of Tiananmen Square.