By James Delingpole
I would like to thank James for allowing me to republish his works. This appeared in The Spectator here. RK
Only this morning I got an email from an evidently very bright 17-year-old at a certain nameless public school. ‘I’m so sick of having to study “environmental ethics” for hours on end, being split into “study groups”, and making lovely colourful mind-maps for presentations; the syllabus is infantile, and I feel increasingly infantilised by my relativist, happy-clappy and downright incompetent teachers,’ he wrote. Amen, brother.
I’m not sure who I feel sorrier for: the poor kids being force-fed this drivel; or the poor parents who probably imagined that for the price of £30,000 a year they’d bought the right not to have their beloved ones indoctrinated with all this specious eco-propaganda. But there’s no escape, unfortunately, from the ‘Clamour of the Times’. More unfortunately still, this clamour is going to have truly dangerous consequences for us all.
One of these consequences — the growth of eco-terrorism — was explored in this week’s Storyville: If a Tree Falls — a Story of the Earth Liberation Front (BBC4, Monday). It concerned the various members of ELF (a bit like ALF, only for tree-huggers rather than animal-rights Nazis) imprisoned for a wave of arson attacks on the logging industry in the Pacific North West.
Despite having burned down dozens of buildings and having caused millions of dollars-worth of damage and disruption, the ELF activists still couldn’t see that they’d done wrong. ‘No one got hurt, no one got injured,’ said one of their ringleaders, Daniel McGowan, piously. As for the suggestion that he was guilty of terrorism, this was clearly beyond absurd. ‘Most people who know me, when they hear I’m being charged for terrorism offences, are like “Whaaat?!”’ said McGowan. Then again, since most of McGowan’s ‘people’ seemed to be fellow eco-terrorists, that’s probably not so much of a surprise as he thinks.
McGowan’s description of the moment he was radicalised sounded awfully similar to the way Islamists are recruited on campus. He went along to a meeting where he was shown movie montage of sundry environmental ‘crimes’ — forests being chopped down; oil wells leaking; whales being harpooned — which made him go, ‘Holy crap! What the hell are we doing?’
Though McGowan was at pains to present himself as just an ordinary, caring, sensitive guy driven to radical action by a sense of burning injustice, one of his comrades rather gave lie to this. ‘We used to call him “the Disgruntled One”,’ remembered the friend. ‘Because he was nasty and bitter.’ McGowan’s long-suffering sister, meanwhile — who had put up his bail money and housed him (and his even more irritating girlfriend) while he was awaiting trial — told the story of his obsessive environmentalism. One day, she came home to find he had removed all the labels from the cans so he could recycle the paper. ‘But now I can’t tell what’s in the cans, whether it’s soup or peas or corn or what,’ she said. ‘I never thought of that,’ said Daniel.
And that, of course, is the problem. Like all zealots, these eco-loons are so persuaded of the unassailable righteousness of their cause that they simply cannot see the bigger picture. For example, though clearly it is not a pretty sight when an entire hillside’s-worth of mighty trees that have been growing for 500 years are brutally felled, it’s not as though a bunch of nasty men are doing it just for fun. It’s because wood is an invaluable (and renewable) resource which, like it or not, our civilisation uses in great quantities.
This is exactly the kind of muddled thinking that drove Greenpeace founder member Patrick Moore (not the astronomer; this one’s Canadian) to quit the organisation in disgust in the 1980s. As he writes in his book Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout, ‘Apparently the people who used the wood to build their homes, print their books and magazines, and wipe their bottoms were not to blame. It was the loggers and most particularly the multinational forest corporations who employed them who were the real evil-doers, according to activist theory.’
It’s one of the reasons I spent a good chunk of the past two years of my life writing Watermelons — not because I’m obsessed with ‘Global Warming’ (God, no! I’m sick to death of it) but because I’m excruciatingly aware just how pervasive a hold the global environmental religion has exerted on the public imagination. I never wanted to be the boy who points out that the emperor is wearing no clothes. But some poor sod’s got to or we’ll be stuck with this lunacy for ever.
That’s a plug for my new book, out this week, by the way. It’s brilliant, it’s funny and you’ll love it. And just in case you failed to get the hint, here it is: Watermelons: How Environmentalists Are Killing The Planet, Destroying The Economy And Stealing Your Children’s Future (Biteback) is out now.