A few weeks ago a mate asked me if I thought the climate change hysteria would begin to die down as skepticism increases and the alarmists’ predictions fail to materialise. The infantile reaction to Greta Thunberg’s nonsense aside, I think environmentalists are already forging ahead with Plan B:
Today, it has become clear that plastic is having a devastating effect not only on wildlife but on ourselves. It is now polluting every corner of our planet. I have seen first-hand, how it is choking our oceans and rivers.
It entangles animals with lethal effect. It causes perforated stomachs and starvation. Mammals, birds, fish and marine invertebrates – over 180 different species in all – have been identified accidentally eating it.
But the impact on humans is less well known. Now a report published jointly by the conservation organisation Fauna & Flora International and others highlights for the first time the effect of plastic waste on the health of the world’s poorest people.
It shows that 400,000 to one million people are dying every year as a result of mismanaged waste. If the upper end of this estimate is correct, then one person is dying every 30 seconds as a consequence of this dreadful pollution.
In the space of about three years plastic in the ocean has gone from something fringe campaigners banged on about to being ubiquitous in media, politics, and business. Barely a day goes by without somebody reminding us how much plastic is in the ocean and how terrible it is (although never actually admitting where it comes from).
As always, the proposed solutions are bans, restrictions, and higher prices imposed by central government following an increase in power, money, and privilege for politicians and environmental campaigners. Nobody considers more practical solutions (such as proper landfill whose CO2 emissions are captured), just as those claiming climate change is an imminent, existential threat refuse to endorse nuclear power. The plastic issue is cloaked in the language of morality whereby plastic is bad because it’s artificial but clearing the rainforest to grow plant-based alternatives is good. Whereas climate change was a political movement which became a quasi-religious one, the war on plastic is a spiritual campaign in which wealthy, middle-class mothers seek to capture politics in order to advance their cause. You’ll notice that of all the plastic items deemed unnecessary by our moral superiors, women’s cosmetic products never make the list. Nor do disposable nappies. If you were to get accurate data on how many men are really on board with environmentalism, organic produce, and bans on junk food compared with those who just wearily go along with whatever their partner deems important, I’d guess the latter outnumber the former ten to one.
So while I don’t think the climate change hysteria will die down, I reckon it my lose prominence to moral crusades such as the war on plastic. Climate change was always political, a route to power for authoritarians who found socialism no longer an option due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as western societies scrabbled around for something to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Christianity, it took on a religious bent. Now that seed has been planted we’re seeing cults forming for whom politics is the means to their spiritual ends. They’re already calling for the customary dietary restrictions. I expect what we’ll see is new cults springing up – indeed, identity politics probably already qualifies, perhaps third-wave feminism too – and fight among one another for state recognition, support, and resources. Meanwhile normal people will think they’re in the middle of a Third Great Awakening, dominated by box-wine suburban housewives, corporate power skirts with a repeat prescription for Prozac, children in Ralph Lauren jumpers with double-barreled surnames, and twenty-eight year olds who still live with their parents because they don’t like the idea of being on a cleaning roster.
It’s going to be fun, isn’t it?