Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Climate and the bourgeoisie

An early low-carbon bourgeois
From Wikipedia

To my mind the orthodox climate narrative is obviously political, not a scientific discovery about the future. Equally obvious - it was designed for maximum bourgeois appeal. So what is the attraction of such a superficially alarming narrative?

As we all know, the orthodox climate narrative is wrapped around an apparent threat to bourgeois comforts via drought, floods, rising sea levels and many other catastrophes. Sounds scary, but the mitigation part of the narrative holds out a juicy promise of unlimited future comforts via sustainable energy.

Admittedly one would have to be gullible to swallow the sustainable energy guff, but that is what feed-in tariffs are for - to create a misleading sense of familiarity with wind and solar. Familiarity is half the battle. Add in a green badge for saving the planet and the job’s mostly done.

Saving the planet by developing clean, everlasting energy sources. What else offers more appeal to the bourgeois sense of entitlement? What else offers such balm to the uneasy modern conscience?

The up-front demands are minimal. A spot of recycling, some curly light bulbs and a Toyota Prius on the drive. No neighbour can beat it for quietly sanctimonious swank.

Not only that, but the potential rewards are enormous – nothing less than a life of permanent comfort. Because it’s sustainable isn’t it? That’s the carrot. Beneath the sanctimonious shroud-waving, the climate narrative has a deeply selfish appeal – deferred gratification on a humongous scale.

No wonder the Guardian and the BBC push it with such sanctimonious relish. No wonder they react with such swivel-eyed malice towards anyone who might threaten the dream.

Many climate sceptics seem both angry and confused at the casual dumping of scientific integrity by the climate narrative. I think this is because the rewards so covertly offered to the climate faithful are hugely underestimated. Apart from five centuries of scientific progress the sacrifice is not excessive for those able to afford their energy bills without undue stress. Yet the supposed gains are disproportionately colossal.

Seth Pecksniff is alive and well. These days he recycles his Waitrose wine bottles, pops his old trousers in the charity bag and drives a Toyota Prius on mileage allowance.

The attempt has been made, and wrongly, to make a class of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is simply the contented portion of the people. The bourgeois is the man who now has time to sit down. A chair is not a caste. But through a desire to sit down too soon, one may arrest the very march of the human race.

Victor Hugo - Les Misérables (1862)

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