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Greens don't like technology

Stephen Budiansky wonders why environmentalists dislike economic activity so much. In passing he notes Prof Kevin Anderson's contribution to this blog the other day, and is very amused.

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Reader Comments (36)

It is funny about a professor not washing to save the planet. But Delingpole was also right: Anderson shows a great deal more consistency than most of those at the forefront of climate alarm. He clearly isn't in it for his own comfort or profit. With enemies like that, the world would turn into a much better place.

Dec 13, 2010 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I agree with Richard Drake. Kevin Anderson came across as somebody sincere about his beliefs, although I do not share his beliefs.

The average EcoFascist however is a different specimen. He/she expects to be paid a lot of money, funded by taxpayers, to tell those paying tax that their basic economic method of earning money is wrong.

Just like the political leaders they are eager to become, they have no understanding of the simple concept that to produce income tax you have to produce income for yourself or your employer.

The EcoFascists that pen mighty tomes about the perils of overpopulation are the last ones to comprehend who should be sacrifed first. If only some of them had learnt more from the history f the CanCon area

Dec 13, 2010 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

I appreciate even more the comments over there. They point to the obvious flaw in Stephen's analysis, the fact that "carbon emissions" are not bound by boundaries. We import many goods from China. China exports a lot. Obviously we do not "emit" the CO2 that we created in our iPads, notebooks and toys. And the chinese did.

So I'm very inclined towards his general point of view, but he has failed to produce a good concrete example of it.

Dec 13, 2010 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

Greems don't like technology

They have not a clue.

They have yet to realise that when the wind does not blow, there will be no electricity in a green world.

Of course there will be special reserves of electrictity for them. They know this, for a fact. It will come from... solar? ....hydro?

Dec 13, 2010 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Wasn't it their idea to put a pie in the sky?

Dec 13, 2010 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

George Monbiot expounds on the dangers of progress itself below . He compares dangerous, environment destroying Jewish progress myths unfavourably with pagan cyclical myths in harmony with nature..

God of the Soil

The peculiarities of the Abrahamic religions - their astonishing success in colonising the world and their dangerous notion of progress (now inherited by secular society) - result from a marriage between the universal god of the nomads and the conditions which permitted cities to develop. The dominant beliefs of the past 2000 years are the result of an ancient migration from soils such as xerepts and xeralfs to soils such as fluvents and rendolls.

At Easter, the Christian belief in a permanent resurrection is mixed up with the pagan belief in a perpetual cycle of temporary resurrection and death. In church we worship the Christian notion of progress, which has now filtered into every aspect of our lives. But, amid the cracking of easter eggs and the murmur of prayer, there can still be heard the small, faint voice which reminds us that our ecological hubris must eventually be greeted by nemesis.

Dec 13, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered Commentere smith

They are Irrational Pessimists (apologies to Matt Ridley).

Dec 14, 2010 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Arcadian fantasies are nothing new, they have quite a history of recurring.

Romantic primitivism

What we are seeing here is much the same thing.

Dec 14, 2010 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I can't wait to see a cartoon by Josh with professor Anderson not washing his clothes.

Dec 14, 2010 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarl

It is so much easier to believe than learn. Kevin has much to learn, such as what soap really does.

Dec 14, 2010 at 3:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

BANANAs - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

Dec 14, 2010 at 4:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Environmentalists made a huge mistake jumping on the CAGW bandwagon, every environmental cause is now corralled and controlled by the BIG GREEN CAGW lobby, they allowed this to happen, even encouraged it amongst themselves.

The irony is they can't see the damage they have done to environmentalism.

the CAGW bubble will burst, and the backlash will take the environment down with it IMO.

Dec 14, 2010 at 8:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Nine electric cars will be eligible for subsidies.

Details have been released of the first nine electric cars that will be eligible for grants of up to £5,000 in a government subsidy scheme.
Under the £43m initiative that starts on 1 January, buyers will get a 25% discount up to the maximum £5,000.
However, only three of the nine cars will be immediately ready for delivery, with others following as late as 2012.
I have an idea how to save the government £43m, well on paper anyway.

Dec 14, 2010 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

The Greens have a problem, and they do not like it when I point it out to them...

They have Carbon Footprints coming out of their ar... sorry ears. There was even a piece in the Guardian about having a guilt free Christmas, due to the carbon footprint of the season.

How exactly do they write these pieces left on servers. How exactly do people contribute comments? Via their computers and smartphones of course.

They are effectively parasites on modern society. They criticise the fruits of society whilst at the same time enjoying the benefits of it. Do they think their Macbook Air materialised out of thin air? Their cheap Taiwenese bicylce was designed on computer and produced via computer controlled machines.

The electric car was not developed on parchment under bleedin candle light now was it?

Whenever I get a real sanctimonious green, I suggest the following.

Start a commune. Say in a nice remote part of Southern Siberia. Somewhere remote. No technology, no communication. No carbon footprint (well just the fires to keep warm and cook the food.) Lead by example.

I get seriously pissed with people criticising society whilst enjoying its benefits.

Dec 14, 2010 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

The social class who are pushing AGW are the very Guardian and NYT reading consumers who buy what is advertised in the glossy supplements. These are the exact people who are emitting huge amounts of gratuitous CO2.

Dec 14, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commentere smith

The Mitsubishi i-Miev electric car, reduced to 24k when the Government's £5000 electric car grant is taken into account. A bargain for the glossy supplement guided consumer, if that is, you want to buy an airbag on wheels that travels 90 miles maximum before the next recharge. I can see it replacing the daubed roller the Prince and his other half uses for theatre trips. Josh cartoon required, you’ll never get a knighthood though.

Dec 14, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

The GWPF has noted Donna Laframboise's current blog recalling the doomsayer mindset of the academic environmentalists calling for action in 1972 in the Ecologist magazine in advance of the world's first Environment Summit: the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm, ie before climate change had been 'invented'. This is a crystal clear demonstration that the agenda declaring the problem preceded, and thereafter dictated, the 'findings' of subsequent scientific analysis, to 'justify' a predetermined conclusion. The summary of that Ecologist article is here

Dec 14, 2010 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

@e smith

It is consumerism without the guilt. I can buy something totally unnecessary for 3 times the price of a product which does the same, yet because it has "Green" somewhere in the marketing crap, then it is ok to buy it. How about donating the difference between the cheap one and the green to charity?

I believe the creation of CAGW phenomenon and the Internet are linked. CAGW is a bastard child of the Internet and the Communication Age. Fear is easy to sell when communication lines are fast and short. Yet they want to break those new fast communication lines (air travel, internet). I believe one of the best hopes we have is that some poor black farmer who son who previously would never have been discovered turns out to be Einstein Mk II. Cheap efficient transfer of knowledge and/or people is what we need.

Greens are not able to sort out the contradictions that exist in their world view.

Dec 14, 2010 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket


Some connections between The Ecologist, the Goldsmiths and the extreme right. Goldsmith originally published Lovelock's Gaia book.

Millionaire Goldsmith supports the left and the extreme right

All over Europe New Right ideologists are seeking contact with left-wing activists to build together a movement against, for instance, the destruction of nature or against "globalisation". (1) In this way the extreme right also hopes to become accepted again. The British ecologist Edward Goldsmith supports them in this endeavour. He sponsors and works together with dozens of progressive organisations and is one of the driving forces behind the international campaign-networks against "free trade". At the same time he is becoming a more important factor within the extreme right.

Black Shirts in Green Trousers - by George Monbiot, April 30, 2002

The far right is moving in, and greens and globalisation campaigners must do more to shut it out.

The BNP is not the only force on the far right which now describes itself as “the true green party”. Similar claims have been made by members of Le Pen’s Front National, by the Vlaams Blok in Belgium and, in Britain, by a tiny offshoot of the National Front which calls itself Third Way. This is the group which most clearly articulates the way in which the politics of the hard right are shifting.

The previous editorial team split with its founder Teddy Goldsmith after he addressed a meeting of the hard right Groupement de Recherche et d’Etudes pour la Civilisation Europeene. Goldsmith, whose politics are a curious mixture of radical and reactionary, has advocated the enforced separation of Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and Protestants and Catholics in Ulster, on the grounds that they constitute “distinct ethnic groups” and are thus culturally incapable of co-habitation.

Goldsmith's close friend John Aspinall wanted to wipe out most of the world's population. With James Goldsmith and Lord Lucan, he discussed the overthrow of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

John Aspinall

Some of us are now drawn to believe that a demo-catastrophe will be an eco-bonanza. In other words, a population readjustment on a planetary scale from 4000 million to something in the nature of 200 million would be the only possible solution for the survival of our species.and of the eco-system or systems that nurtured us.

Desperate Lucan dreamt of fascist coup. Murder mystery earl bought Mein Kampf and listened to Hitler's speeches

There is no suggestion Lucan was in any way anti-Semitic or supported the Final Solution. But he and his associates, who included casino owner and party host John Aspinall, and the tycoon Sir James Goldsmith, were increasingly convinced Britain had fallen victim to a socialist conspir acy. Daily Express journalist Charles Benson, one of Lucan's friends, said: 'He was very right wing and never watered it down in front of liberals. He would talk about hanging and flogging and niggers to get a reaction.'

According to former MI5 officer Peter Wright, a group of his colleagues, including Margaret Thatcher's mentor Airey Neave, began discussing a political coup. According to Wright, they believed that the Labour government had been infiltrated by the KGB and should be overthrown. He also claimed they were backed by a right-wing financier. Goldsmith always denied he put the money behind the group or discussed MI5 matters with former intelligence officers.

Dec 14, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered Commentere smith

'Jiminy Cricket'

I was referring to their non green consumerism. I do not believe for one second these people are buying more than a minimal amount of green technology (at the moment).

Dec 14, 2010 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commentere smith

@e smith,

I actually do not believe there is such a thing as Green consumerism.

Environmental friendly products should be defined by looking at the whole supply chain, the alternatives (and their supply chain) AND the final end use.

I can buy a GBP 100,000 Mercedes safe in the knowledge that the latest version is "greener"? There are few products now that do not have this crap somewhere in the marketing... even if it just the use of green colour. Make it green and it must be good/better.

I agree with you... in reality most haven't a clue if a product is really eco-friendly or not.

Dec 14, 2010 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Here's a technology greens love - but not very green.

Dec 14, 2010 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

No, seriously, if you want to save the planet just shop here:

And here's one I know you are going to love:

If that doesn't fix it, we're all in a lot more trouble than we realise. :-)

Dec 14, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

'not banned yet'

The benefits would be ever so slightly outweighed by ...

The most unsustainable day in your entire life.

24 hours in Abu Dhabi riding Formula 1 cars courtesy of the Guardian.

You can pay AED 7,500 (£1,300) for a two-lap blast in custom-built two-seater F1 race car.

Dec 14, 2010 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commentere smith

The Israelis are creating the first workable electric car system - you don't have to always recharge but you can, when necessary, replace thebattery in one minute at a switch station. Sheer genius.

Shai Agassi is one green I have a lot of time for. His philosophy is - don't punish people for not being green, instead make doing stuff - driving, flying, making things - better when done in a green way:

Dec 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterO'Geary

"Greens don't like technology"

Oh, I don't know - they seem to like technology that doesn't work, like wind generators, solar PV, electric cars, low-power lightbulbs and so on... :-)

Dec 14, 2010 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Re Carl

I can't wait to see a cartoon by Josh with professor Anderson not washing his clothes.

I think that's a bit harsh and I applaud Prof Anderson's stance against big chemicals and big appliances. Billions have been spent convincing people to buy more washing powder or more advanced appliances and gadgetry when most of it isn't really necessary. The weekly laundry now becomes the daily laundry. Jeans must be washed after only 1 wear because they're now 'dirty', even though most of us live far cleaner lifestyles than our ancestors. Good for flooging washing powder and increasing wear & tear on clothing and appliances, not so good for our wallets or the environment.

Labour saving gadgets like washer/driers burn more energy when you then have to iron creased stuff rather than just washing it, hanging it outside to use the free 'atomic dryer' and letting most of the creases drop out. But lots of places now seem to state that washing lines are verbotten on ground of spoiling the visual amenity of an area. Go figure.

Worst examples are fake green products, like the good old CFL's. Far less green than their predecessors, but far more profitable. Handy if you can convince governments to ban your cheaper competitors as well. Or 'green' energy generation, which isn't green and wouldn't exist in any normal free market. Other than nuclear, which is the best low carbon generation but we can't have that because effective greenwash has been preventing it for decades. Per Budiansky, markets left to themselves generally find the most efficient method to balance supply and demand. Heavy handed intervention just ends up distorting the market and increasing supply or demand side costs as we're seeing in our energy market.

Dec 14, 2010 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Who is Maurice Strong? - international political player - Cover Story

It is instructive to read Strong's 1972 Stockholm speech and compare it with the issues of Earth Summit 1992. Strong warned urgently about global warming, the devastation of forests, the loss of biodiversity,
polluted oceans, the population time bomb. Then as now, he invited to the conference the brand-new environmental NGOs [non-governmental organizations]: he gave them money to come; they were invited to raise hell at home. After Stockholm, environment issues became part of the administrative framework in Canada, the U.S., Britain, and Europe.

Stockholm 1972

A - Pollution Generally
Recommendation 70

It is recommended that Governments be mindful of activities in which there is an appreciable risk of effects on climate, and to this end:

(a) Carefully evaluate the likelihood and magnitude of climatic effects and disseminate their findings to the maximum extent feasible before embarking on such activities;

(b) Consult fully other interested States when activities carrying a risk of such effects are being contemplated or implemented.
Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
Brief Summary of the General Debate

Maurice Strong has played a unique and critical role is globalizing the environmental movement. Secretary General of both the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which launched the world environment movement, and the 1992 Rio Environmental Summit, he was the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Live & Learn: Maurice Strong

I never aspired to be in business. I went into business because I only have a high-school education, and I couldn’t get jobs that required higher qualifications. I went into business quite reluctantly, because it was the only place I could get a job.

Honours and Awards

Other honours and awards include:
The Brazilian National Order of the Southern Cross
Commander of the Order of the Golden Ark (Netherlands)
International Saint Francis Prize
Fellow The Royal Society (UK)

Royal Society of Canada
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
International Institute for Sustainable Development


* "The concept of national sovereignty has been an immutable, indeed sacred, principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation. It is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states, however powerful. The global community must be assured of environmental security." -Maurice Strong at the 1992 Earth Summit.
* "Because I wanted influence in the United States." -Maurice Strong quoted in Saturday Night magazine, responding to a question by a reporter asking why he gave large donations to both political parties in the United States during the 1988 election cycle.
* "If we don't change, our species will not survive... Frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse." -Maurice Strong quoted in the September 1, 1997 edition of National Review magazine.
* The Earth Summit will play an important role in] reforming and strengthening the United Nations as the centerpiece of the emerging system of democratic global governance." -Maurice Strong quoted in the September 1, 1997 edition of National Review magazine.
* "[I am] a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology." -Maurice Strong as quoted in Macleans.
* "[The Great Depression left me] frankly very radical." -Maurice Strong quoted in the September 1, 1997 edition of National Review magazine,_critical_views

Dec 14, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

@Pharos Dec 14, 2010 at 11:55 AM

See post above. Maurice Strong was already stirring the pot about climate at Stockholm 1972

How many people whose formal education was limited to high school, get honoured as Fellow of Royal Society, Royal Society of Canada plus honours from NAS I wonder ?

BS baffles brains?


Dec 14, 2010 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

Could this have benn aimed at the Greens?

Peter Walsh

This quote is from Thomas H. Huxley:

“The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

Dec 14, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

I was already aware that Strong and the post democratic global government promoting Club of Rome were searching for a vehicle to promote their agenda and that there were ecofreak activists, and highly vocal, persuasive and influential ones at that. Situation normal.
What is highly revealing and sinister about Donna Laframboise's post is that there was already a substantial quorum of professors in positions of academic influence that one has to conclude were prepared to place advocacy above scientific integrity, as listed here

and here

Dec 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Lets face it, they are not electric cars, they are coal powered,and very inefficiently at that.

My new "green,energy efficient " freezer, uses 15% less electricity but holds 25% less food than the old one with the same external dimensions.

Dec 14, 2010 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Tolson

@Pharos Dec 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

I recently characterized the religious hierarchy in the UK as follows

Religious leader not the Archdruid of Canterbury but the Chief Scientist, with the Royal Society as College of Bishops, and of course Lovelock as Prophet (at least wrt AGW)

The former Chief Scientist David King said he established his reputation by his handing of the FMD control policy which was also driven by bogus math modeling

Our problem is much wider than just climate

Avian flu
Swine Flu

Every scare was driven by bogus modeling. Every time were were told to just accept the authority of the so called experts (appeal to authority), and every one was wrong.
Also every one tied to UN agencies IPCC, WHO, OIE

We really are dealing with a new priesthood (now in lab coats) here IMO


Britain's most expensive myth

Predictive models and FMD: the emperor’s new clothes?
So how could the control policy for a major disease outbreak be based on models which had never been validated? If the predictions for the number of new variant Creutzfeld–Jacob disease (vCJD) cases in the UK made in the late 1990s had not been suffcient to undermine the credibility of the predictive modellers, surely the FMD experience should have made the modellers appreciate the limitations of their science and accept at least some responsibility for the misery and expense that their models initiated. Predictive modelling has become fashionable but, often without much evidence that it serves any useful purpose, is the science based too much on reputation?

Carnage from a computer

WE ARE USED to politicians suppressing the truth. When scientists do it as well, we are in trouble. Not one of the Government’s senior advisers, from Sir David King, the chief scientist, downwards, has yet dared to confirm in public what most experts in private now accept, that the mass slaughter of farm animals in the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak was not only unnecessary and inhumane, but was also based on false statistics, bad science and wrong deductions.
The mistakes that were made in attempting to control the outbreak are laid bare in a devastating paper recently compiled by Paul Kitching, one of the world’s leading veterinary experts, and published by the World Organisation for Animal Health.
The language used in Dr Kitching’s report has a controlled anger about it. He talks of “a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models”, mentions the “public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter” and concludes: “The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models [statistics used to predict the course of an epidemic] can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.”

Use and abuse of mathematical models:
an illustration from the 2001 foot and mouth
disease epidemic in the United Kingdom
R.P. Kitching (1), M.V. Thrusfield (2) & N.M. Taylor
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major threat, not only to countries whose economies rely on agricultural exports, but also to industrialised countries that maintain a healthy domestic livestock industry by eliminating major infectious diseases from their livestock populations. Traditional methods of controlling diseases such as FMD require the rapid detection and slaughter of infected animals, and any susceptible animals with which they may have been in contact, either directly or indirectly. During the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK), this approach was supplemented by a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models. The epidemic and its control resulted in the death of approximately ten million animals, public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter, and political resolve to adopt alternative options, notably including vaccination, to control any future epidemics. The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.

Following the outbreak of SARS, one thing was certain: Professor Roy Anderson of Imperial College would soon be hitting the headines.

Government virus expert paid £116k by swine flu vaccine manufacturers

Dec 15, 2010 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrent


"convincing people to buy more washing powder"

All in the wake of the most succinct and successful marketing device to date: "rinse and repeat"...

The general thrust of the debate above is fascinating, as it is laying bare the reliance on and falsity of computer modelling in other spheres. I may be slow on the uptake, but I hadn't properly appreciated how pervasive the technique is, and how often unchallenged.

Dec 15, 2010 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Conservation and the Misuse of Science
Hedgehogs, Bats and Badgers
Dr James Irvine

Whether it be hedgehogs, bats or badgers it would appear that SNH and others are happy to”fiddle” at taxpayers expense “while Rome burns” in terms of damage to human and animal health and to the economy. It is time that a stop was put to this form of self-indulgent and extravagant pseudo science.

Bats and Rabies

Dec 15, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrent

Re James P

The general thrust of the debate above is fascinating, as it is laying bare the reliance on and falsity of computer modelling in other spheres. I may be slow on the uptake, but I hadn't properly appreciated how pervasive the technique is, and how often unchallenged.

Easiest way to look at it is the same way as Oreskes did with the Merchants of Doubt. There, she assumes some shadowy cabal of vested interests using PR and marketing techniques to caste doubt. What she conveniently ignores is far more money is being spent on PR and marketing to sell CAGW. They go with what works, so standard appeals to authority and emotion. So we have 'scientifically proven' CAGW, just as we have washing powders and cosmetics. What we don't have is the formal equivalent of the ASA calling them out. Although they have taken to task some advertisers over dubious greenwash claims. Bodies that should be sceptical, like government's science adisors have bought into the PR hook line and sinker, but then they benefit from it. They are no longer 'honest brokers', which is a bit of a problem and not very good for science.

Dec 15, 2010 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

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