The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'contrarians'
Right-wing contrarian Jeremy Clarkson (he's sort of The Times' version of Charlie Brooker, or perhaps a very English P.J. O'Rourke) weighs into the question of sustainable food production:
Already the Atlantic has fewer cod in it than Elton John’s bath, so we are having to import fish fingers from China. And you may think this is fine. Your underpants come from the Far East, and your mobile phone, so why should we not import our watercress and beef from those industrious little yellow fellows on the banks of the Yangtze? I’ll tell you why. Because China’s population is growing, too, and soon they won’t be able to send us their fish fingers because they will have been scoffed before they get to the docks.
Obviously, one solution is to burn the entire Amazon rainforest and turn this rich and fertile place into the world’s pantry. But unfortunately this is not possible because Sting will turn up on a chat show with some pygmy who’s sewn a saucer into his bottom lip, arguing that the world’s “indigenous tribes” are suffering because of the West’s greed.
I fear, too, that if we all became vegetablists, the world would smell of halitosis and we’d all start to vote Liberal Democrat. Furthermore, all the veg-heads I know are sickly and grey and unable to climb a flight of stairs without fainting.Clarkson's modest proposal is simple: you know all those exotic species you see on BBC nature shows? Well, we could eat those. And no need to worry about endangered species, as the free market will take care of that issue:
I believe that if enough people demanded blue whale for supper, garnished with the ears of a panda and the left wing of a juicy great bustard, it wouldn’t take very long for big business to move in.
When there’s a quid to be made, pandas will be having babies with the regularity of hens and you won’t be able to go to the shops for all the leopards you’ll meet on the way.
A leading environmentalist has claimed that walking to the shops does more to cause global warming than driving; according to Chris Goodall, the author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life and a Green Party candidate in the UK, producing the food to provide a person with enough calories to walk to the shops is more energy-intensive than driving. Also, catching a diesel train is twice as polluting as driving a sports-utility vehicle over the same distance, paper bags are more environmentally damaging than plastic (because of the energy required to manufacture and transport them), organic milk causes more greenhouse emissions than intensively-produced non-organic milk, and while trees do absorb carbon, they produce methane, which is much more harmful.
So if you want to save the planet, forget about walking and drive everywhere like a mid-20th-century Los Angeleno, taking care to live a sedentary lifestyle in the interim. And don't even think about going to the gym; you'll go to green hell for such egregious wastes of carbon. Or perhaps not.
An interesting interview with leftist/neoconservative Christopher Hitchens, by Johann Hari:
Hitchens was on a TV debate with the leader of a small socialist party in the Irish dail. "He said these Islamic fascists are doing this because they have deep-seated grievances. And I said, 'Ah yes, they have many grievances. They are aggrieved when they see unveiled women. And they are aggrieved that we tolerate homosexuals and Jews and free speech and the reading of literature.' And this man - who had presumably never met a jihadist in his life - said, 'No, it's about their economic grievances.' Well, of course, because the Taliban provided great healthcare and redistribution of wealth, didn't they? After the debate was over, I said, 'If James Connolly [the Irish socialist leader of the Easter Risings] could hear you defending these theocratic fascist barbarians, you would know you had been in a fight. Do you know what you are saying? Do you know who you are pissing on?"
He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy. "It's explicitly anti-Kissingerian. Kissinger hates this stuff. He opposed intervening in the Balkans. Kissinger Associates were dead against [the war in] Iraq. He can't understand the idea of backing democracy - it's totally alien to him."
I feel simultaneously roused by Hitch's arguments and strangely disconcerted. Why did Hitch so enthusiastically back the administration's bogus WMD arguments - arguments he still stands by? I think of the Bush administration's denial of global warming, the hideous 'structural adjustment' programmes it rams down the throats of the world's poor (including Iraq's), its description of Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace"? Why intellectually compromise on all these issues and back Bush?
Best-selling airport novellist Michael Crichton rips environmentalism a new one:
Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
And, apparently, media coverups go both ways:
So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven't read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don't report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn't carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America.
Crichton goes on to say that secondhand smoke is not a health hazard and climate change is not such a big deal, and claims to be able to cite articles in prestigious scientific journals to back up his views. I wonder what Bruce Sterling will make of him. (Then again, in Crichton's view, Sterling and his Viridian ilk would be religious fundamentalists.)
Read: Christopher Hitchens on Islamic fundamentalism, the marginalisation of moderates and humanists, and why the Saudis and their ilk are not our allies.
And he's right; moderate humanism isn't very popular in Washington either. Not long before 11 September, the Bush administration was advocating "faith-based government" and praising the Taleban as allies in the war on drugs. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan are still persona non grata with Washington, who preferred to back the warlords and rapists from the Northern Alliance. The conflict is not so much framed as "humanism vs. zealotry" as "our god vs. your god"; the God-given manifest destiny of America vs. the will of Allah. Which sounds like nothing so much as a debate between paranoid schizophrenics. Only the schizophrenics have armies and nuclear missiles and zealots willing to kill and die on their word.
The real conflict would be between enlightened, tolerant liberal (I'd say libertarian, if the word hadn't been taken over by the Ayn Rand cult and like-minded zealots) humanism (i.e., the values we should export to all who seek them) and the belligerent, atavistic ignorance of every thug, tyrant and dictator. Though our leaders have sided with the thugs too often.
Or, to quote an entirely different holy book, "Death to all fanatics!"