Policy Documents

Dissidents Against Dogma

Alexander Cockburn –
June 8, 2007

We should never be more vigilant than at the moment a new dogma is being installed. The claque endorsing what is now dignified as "the mainstream theory" of global warming stretches all the way from radical greens through Al Gore to George W. Bush, who signed on at the end of May. The left has been swept along, entranced by the allure of weather as revolutionary agent, naïvely conceiving of global warming as a crisis that will force radical social changes on capitalism by the weight of the global emergency. Amid the collapse of genuinely radical politics, they have seen it as the alarm clock prompting a new Great New Spiritual Awakening.

Alas for their illusions. Capitalism is ingesting global warming as happily as a python swallowing a piglet. The press, which thrives on fearmongering, promotes the nonexistent threat as vigorously as it did the imminence of Soviet attack during the cold war, in concert with the arms industry. There's money to be made, and so, as Talleyrand said, "Enrich yourselves!" I just bought two roundtrip British Airways ticket to Spain from Seattle and a BA online passenger advisory promptly instructed me that the CO2 "offset" cost would be $7.90 on each ticket, which I might care to contribute to Climate Care. It won't be long before utility bills will carry similar, albeit mandatory and much larger charges. Here's a forewarning of what is soon going to happen, courtesy of Samuel Brittan in the Financial Times, under the menacing title, "Towards a true price for energy":

"An enhanced [climate change levy] could be the basis for a genuine shadow price for energy, which could become the basis for energy policy and replace the mind-boggling variety of specific schemes now in place. But for this to happen the consumer exemptions would have to go, and the levy first increased and then raised each year by more than inflation. An approach along these lines would be a contribution to an international effort to reduce dependence on imported and polluting fuels; but it would also benefit any particular country taking this route. And if Opec made disapproving noises we would know that we were really on to something."