Do you know what the acronym LOHAS stands for? It stands for “Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability” and describes people who want to improve the world through “ethical consumption”. It has probably fallen into oblivion because it describes a phenomenon that today no longer designates individual “pioneers”, but the broad mass of academics, actors, politicians, journalists, managers and their acolytes. LOHAS are – needless to say – convinced climate protectors, and are representatives of the “social strata with strong messages” with “good access to the media” that dominate the public debate.
The LOHAS embody the spirit of the times and vote for the left with particular frequency. Gone are the days when left-wing parties wanted to give poorer citizens better incomes and equal opportunities. The elite of these climate stakeholders can afford expensive travel and do business with companies associated with the right lobby. For LOHAS, climate protection generates a double benefit. They can differentiate themselves, elevate themselves above the mass of the population both morally and materially. Indulgences through climate taxes allow them morally pure consumption, taxes that also ensure that the streets and beaches become emptier as the plebs – the new proletariat – take to underground rides and balcony holidays. They travel in “Falcons”, you in night trains, that their journeys are not so “morally important”. They move around in electric cars subsidised by everyone’s taxes. You ride a bicycle and don’t forget that “the Treasury is all of us”. This is the new morality.
The second pillar on which climate policy is built is the ideology of no alternative, which is embodied in the declaration of a state of emergency. The state of emergency demands submission and achieves it by combining fear of the proclaimed catastrophe with fear of expulsion and punishment for those who do not declare themselves members of the new faith. This works. It creates victimhood and conformity.
Of course, it is not enough to announce a catastrophe once. Any doubts about it must be fought constantly and on a broad front. This works quite well because in the meantime an apparatus of many thousands of full-time climate protection workers has been created in NGOs, foundations, agencies, research institutions, authorities, churches and companies, even in the editorial offices of newspapers! These people are more or less convinced of the importance of their task and earn their living from it.
Green lobby groups, generously funded by government and big business foundations, have a firm grip on everything that happens. There is Fridays for Future, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF and so on. Then there is the permanent and free information in the public media and in major newspapers and magazines. In comparison, the so-called climate sceptics (also known as “deniers”, even if they do not deny anything) have virtually no financial support and are therefore invisible. There is no trace of the much-vaunted coal or oil lobby. The green zeitgeist is sacrosanct and omnipresent.
No one is willing to engage in an open debate about the uncertainties of climate research and climate impacts, the multiple ways of dealing with climate change and the cost-benefit balance of different measures to be taken. No one is willing to say out loud that the goal of being “climate neutral” by 2045, or by 2050, is an arbitrary fixation. Just like the 1.5 degree target or the 2 degree target are arbitrary targets.
I even read in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung absurd sentences like this: “State budgets are important because exceeding them means exceeding (‘tipping point’) the earth’s temperature, which causes irreversible damage, i.e. changes the climate forever. The “Budget” referred to here indicates the amount of CO2 that Germany could still emit in total, according to the calculations of the German Council of Environmental Experts, before it must reach zero (net) emissions to limit global warming to 1.75 degrees. In Germany’s case, this is about 6.7 gigatonnes by 2029 and thus just over half the amount emitted by China per year.
In the highly recommended essay “How Science Has Been Corrupted”, physicist and political scientist Matthew Crawford, of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia, writes
“One of the most striking features of today, for anyone who follows politics closely, is that we are increasingly governed by scare tactics that seem to have been invented to win the approval of a public that has become sceptical of institutions built on the actions of so-called experts. And this is true in many areas. The political challenges of the critics, presented with facts and arguments, which offer a picture of the world that competes with the consensual one, are not answered in a friendly way, but with denunciation. In this way, epistemic threats to institutional authority are resolved in moral conflicts between good and bad people”.
This is precisely the mechanism on which current policy relies so that the scientistic narrative of “climate catastrophe to be urgently averted” eventually becomes the permanent handhold for policies that are increasingly detached from reality and institutions whose authority is being called into question.
Climate targets have nothing to do with reality. After almost 30 years of climate protection policy, wind and sun supply around 6.5% of primary energy in Europe. Nobody seriously believes that we will reach 100% renewable energy in 25 years. It will not happen. Even less so in the rest of the world. But we will spend huge sums of money pretending that it will. Today, about 84% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil sources. Twenty-five years ago, it was 86%. The International Energy Agency predicts that the proportion could fall to around 73% by 2040. In that case, we will still be a long way from zero.
Germany’s emissions, for example, have fallen by 200 million tonnes in the last ten years. In the same period, China increased its emissions by about 3 billion tonnes. What we Merkel’s vassals have saved, China has multiplied by a factor of 15. This is not a reproach to China, where hundreds of millions of people still live in great poverty. However, it should make it clear that the world is not marching blithely towards climate neutrality with Europe leading the way.
Remember: a maximum of five per cent of humanity has a level of wealth at which a small sacrifice in exchange for the good feeling of helping to save the planet seems like a good deal. The other 95% are poorer and, for the most part, much poorer than the average Spanish voter. 82% of the world’s population lives in countries whose average income is less than $30 a day (calculated in so-called international dollars, which is the purchasing power of a dollar in the United States). At least 95% of the world’s inhabitants do not believe that energy, housing, travel, food, etc. are too cheap for their taste and should be made more expensive as a matter of urgency. They are convinced otherwise for good reasons.
We are facing a cultural hegemony of climate alarmism without alternatives. The under-40s can no longer even remember a world that was not threatened by climate collapse and in which a great summer was simply a great summer. The under-30s can barely remember a world in which most European countries were not ruled by politicians bent on saving the climate (and it is hard to imagine how it could be any different in the future). Young people entering adulthood today have spent their entire school years with the threat of catastrophe looming around the corner. If a politician told them today that climate change is a challenge, but that the world knows much more pressing problems, they would assume it would come from another planet. The reality of climate research, which produces new findings every day and thus contributes to an increasingly differentiated picture, is largely ignored. The political room for manoeuvre that should take into account a multitude of possibilities on how to deal with regional and/or local problems related to climate change remains largely unused. There is only one policy left: the politics of fear.
Luis I. Gómez Fernández