Climate activism is not about the planet. It’s about the boredom of the bourgeoisie

The demise of capitalism will not come from the uprising of an impoverished working class, but from the sabotage of a bored upper class. Such was the view of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter believed that at some point in the future an educated elite would have nothing to fight for Per and will instead start fighting against the very system in which they themselves live.

Nothing makes me believe Schumpeter was right quite like the contemporary climate movement and its supporters. The green movement is not a reflection of a planetary crisis, as so many in the media and culture like to portray, but rather a crisis of meaning for the affluent.

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 doomsayer. His first big book the population bomb, gave us timelessly false predictions, including that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the 1980s, and it went downhill from there. Ehrlich assured us that by the year 2000 England would no longer exist, that even with modern fertilizers we could not feed the world and that thermonuclear energy was just around the corner.

Ehrlich, who recently turned 90, is fortunate to have seen all his predictions utterly fail – only to double them in his 60 minutes interview Ehrlich has been wrong on every political issue he has commented on for almost 60 years, yet the mainstream media still treats him like a modern day oracle.


The best answer to this question comes courtesy of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who famously said in 2019, “I think a lot of people care more about being accurate, factually, and semantically correct than about being to be morally right.” In other words, no matter what nonsense one spits out, as long as it is “morally right,” it doesn’t matter what the facts show.

Like the prophet of every religion, Ehrlich is not there to explain the world, but to reaffirm the upper-class pet world of imminent doomsday, which can only be avoided if we fundamentally change the way we live. Of course, when they say “we” they actually mean “you”. It’s not Tesla-driver AOC or now-Stanford professor Ehrlich who will adapt their lifestyles, but working- and middle-class bullies who are said to eat too much meat, drive too many miles in gas-guzzling cars, or even occasionally book a flight to get around to go on vacation.

Climate czar and millionaire John Kerry embodied this perfectly when he attended a climate conference in Iceland in 2019 in his family’s private jet. Asked by journalists how he could reconcile his climate activism with the use of private planes, he seemed confused; After all, Kerry explained, “it’s the only choice for someone like me traveling the world to win this battle” against climate change.

Even supposed grassroots movements like “Just Stop Oil” or “Last Generation” (famous for “Tomato Soup on Paintings”) are in fact funded by millionaires like Aileen Getty, granddaughter of legendary oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, through the Climate Emergency Fund.

Like Kerry, Ehrlich and these other groups aren’t really interested in solving the problem of climate change — for example, promoting research into technologies like nuclear power, carbon capture technologies, and ways to adapt. Instead, they elevate their struggle to a surrogate religion that allows them to simultaneously enjoy their wealth and educate the rest of the world from a position of moral superiority.

Green New Deal
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) hold a press conference to propose legislation to redesign public housing as part of their Green New Deal proposal outside of the U.S. U.S. Capitol inaugurate November 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Liberal lawmakers invited affordable housing advocates and climate change activists to join them in the announcement.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

They are pouring money into this effort, as German journalist Axel Bojanowski pointed out, on a scale that would make the oil lobby blush. At the 2018 Climate Action Summit, two dozen billionaire-backed foundations pledged $4 billion to lobby on climate change. Some of them, like the Hewlett Foundation, directly fund journalists at the Associated Press for “climate reporting,” while foundations associated with the Packard and Rockefeller families have supported the Covering Climate Now journalistic endeavor, which “works with journalists and newsrooms to produce more informed and urgent climate reports” and funds hundreds of media outlets .

One would assume that a journalism class that prides itself on telling the truth to those in power would object to talking billionaire money to further their particular interests, but the opposite is true. And it makes perfect sense since the contemporary media is ideologically in the same camp as the billionaire class; They take as much pleasure in educating the rest of society as Ehrlich and his followers do.

Contrary to the climate extremists and their virtue signals, the world they are trying to create would be devastating for the poorest people on the planet. Eradicating poverty and improving living conditions are only possible through access to energy in all forms and the petrochemical processes made possible by fossil fuels – the production of fertilizers for food and plastics needed in medical devices.

“Just stop oil” would not stop climate change as quickly as human lives. To make matters worse, this activism seems to have zero sympathy for all of the human suffering caused by their pet projects, from child labor in cobalt mines (necessary for batteries) in Congo to forced labor in the PV production process in China , on the environmental damage caused by lithium mining in Chile.

This isn’t about the planet. It’s about the boredom of the bourgeoisie. And they don’t care who has to pay for the relief.

Ralph Schoellhammer is Assistant Professor of Economics and Political Science at Webster University Vienna.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. Climate activism is not about the planet. It’s about the boredom of the bourgeoisie

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