There’s a little meme I sometimes post in comment sections of online stories about climate change: “ Save the planet, starve the people.”
Like it? Okay, maybe it’s not all that great.
After all, it’s tough to beat George Orwell in “1984” — “Freedom is slavery” and “Ignorance is strength,” especially as we’re increasingly seeing those things come true.
And there’s a newer meme floating around you’ve probably heard – “You will own nothing and be happy.” It’s attributed to the World Economic Forum, but Reuters, in a fact check, says it’s not so.
Here’s another one for you: “Leading democracies should agree to end the underpricing of fossil fuels which is the principal factor preventing a clean energy transition.”
Agreed — it’s not as pithy as the memes above. But the problem is, it’s a real statement. And it came out Monday from the World Economic Forum.
The planet’s problem, according to the WEF, is that you are not paying enough for energy.
Didn’t know that did you, when you spent triple-digit dollars to fill up your vehicle? Or discovered your electric bill so high it made you gasp?
That trip to your job or to the grocery store or to visit your parents didn’t cost enough and, as a result, you’re destroying the planet.
The absurd underpricing theory is contained in a new WEF paper written by Colorado State University Economics Professor Edward B. Barbier entitled “The Colour of Democracy is Green: Why a Clean Energy Transition is Also Vital to Safeguarding Liberty.”
The main idea of the paper is this: “Two global crises have come to a head – climate change and the decline of democracy.”
Wait a minute — the climate is getting worse, for which we know the solution is something akin to fascism, and yet there’s a decline in democracy?
Somehow “freedom is slavery” makes more sense.
Barbier says, “Transitioning to green energy is key to both tackling climate change and creating sustainable economies.”
We’re already seeing that transition in progress — the Biden administration and Joe Biden himself have told us those high gas prices are deliberate incentives to get us into electric cars. Impossibly high energy prices, of course, are key to sustainability, right?
Ignorance is strength.
But what about democracy? Barbier has an answer for that, too: “Collective action on a green transition is thereby not only good for the climate but also vital for protecting democracy.”
Collective action protects democracy?
In a sense, that’s true. For what is a democracy but ultimately collective action? And what is collective action but increasing chaos that eventually leads to strong central control?
Which, of course, makes a strong argument for democracy’s antidote: a republic, with its responsiveness, safeguards and protections.
Barbier provides a regression analysis which, unsurprisingly, shows the countries with the most freedom are the ones with the highest positive environmental scores.
The world’s most free country, according to Barbier is Canada. (Has anyone told Justin Trudeau?) Canada is in fifth place, environmentally, behind the U.S., which is in fourth place environmentally and ninth in terms of freedom.
Seeing the U.S. ranked ninth place in freedom prompted me to wonder if Donald Trump entered the equation.
He did, of course, as Barbier, in describing the demise of democracy, provided a link that spoke of democracies “… being harmed from within by illiberal forces, including unscrupulous politicians willing to corrupt and shatter the very institutions that brought them to power.
“This was arguably most visible last year in the United States, where rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6 as part of an organized attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
Whatever. These people are so predictable in what they write.
Ultimately, Barbier and the WEF say “underpricing” fossil fuels leads to economic instability because of the 2020 spending of $5.9 trillion to subsidize the gas, oil and coal industries.
But another paper to which Barbier links that touts that $5.9 trillion says only 8 percent of that subsidy is for actual energy production. The rest, 92 percent, is for what are termed “social,” and “environmental” costs and uncollected consumption taxes.
Translation — Those 92 percent of costs are whatever we say they are and, yeah, maybe we’re making some stuff up.
So, if Barbier, Schwab, Biden and the rest have their way, there’ll be higher energy costs for us and that will affect everything — transportation, food, housing.
In other words — save the planet, starve the people.
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