French Resistance


Teen activist Greta Thunberg has lashed out at French lawmakers for mocking her in a speech to parliament that was boycotted by far-right politicians.

Far-right, eh?

Ms Thunberg, whose solo protest outside the Swedish Parliament inspired the school climate strike movement, has been lauded for her emotive speeches to politicians.

But lawmakers from French parties, including the conservative Republicans and far-right National Rally, said they would shun her speech in the National Assembly.

So not just the far-right, then. Ordinary conservatives as well, those representing French men and women who might not like being lectured to by weird Swedish teenagers.

Urging his colleagues to boycott Ms Thunberg’s speech, leadership candidate for The Republicans, Guillaume Larrive, wrote on Twitter: “We do not need gurus of the apocalypse.”

Other French legislators hurled insults at Ms Thunberg ahead of her speech, calling her a “prophetess in shorts” and the “Justin Bieber of ecology”.

Republicans MP Julien Aubert, who is also contending for his party’s leadership, suggested Ms Thunberg should win a “Nobel Prize for Fear”.

Speaking to France 2 television, Jordan Bardella, an MEP for the National Rally, equated Ms Thunberg’s campaigning efforts to a “dictatorship of perpetual emotion”.

Say what you like about the French, but at least their politicians seem broadly representative of everyone in society. Contrast this with the UK: who among our political classes was representing the tens of millions of people who thought this Thunberg brat had no business addressing parliament?

Members of other parties, such as the Greens and French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist En Marche, were more supportive of her appearance.

Well, yes. They’re representative of the wealthy Metropolitan elites who have no problem whacking up the living costs of those in the provinces in order to engage in Earth-worship.

Speaking in English, Ms Thunberg said…

I’m sure that went down well, too.

Ms Thunberg has been harshly attacked by journalists and trolls on Twitter, but politicians usually use more measured rhetoric when criticising her.

That’s French politicians for you. Good for them.

Liked it? Take a second to support Tim Newman on Patreon!

23 thoughts on “French Resistance

  1. There are still people who believe the BBC does impartial journalism. I mean they still sincerely believe this, not cynically state it.

    It’s amazing.

  2. Her exploitation by the Left is one of the most cynical things I have seen in politics, and they have done a lot of cynical things. The one miracle is they didn’t put her in a wheelchair to make her even more unassailable.

  3. “The Justin Bieber of ecology” is an even greater line, in my opinion! 😂

    Gotta love the French!

  4. That picture of Ed milliband and Gove mooning at her like star struck teenagers was a new low in British politics.
    There should be a law forbidding bed-wetting retards to address parliament.

  5. There should be a law forbidding bed-wetting retards to address parliament.

    W ll, that takes care of the Labour front bench then.
    If rigorously enforced it would be possible for the entire house to sit in the chamber with seats to spare.

  6. This is something I really don’t get.

    She’s somehow become a major political personality because she (in conjunction with parents or whoever else) has managed to catch a particular wave and build a personal brand around it.

    But she doesn’t have any unique insight or qualification in terms of the content she’s talking about. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who know more about it than her, and tens of thousands who have made studying it their life’s work.

    So what are you actually going to learn by listening to her? Nothing that a reasonably well-informed person won’t have heard dozens of times before, surely?

    It seems the point, politically, is more to be seen to be listening to her. And perhaps to claim that you’ve been “inspired” – but the people who say that will most likely be the ones who would have claimed to agree with her points in the first place. The whole thing is just for show. In fact I do not think there are many lawmakers, even among the ones who sing her virtues, and even in France, who genuinely do agree with her, because if they were they would find it absolutely necessary to bring immediate, radical and sweeping transformation of their country’s economy and way of life – yet they show no sign of doing this. Even on a personal level, how many of them have given up meat and stopped flying?

  7. “She’s somehow become a major political personality because she (in conjunction with parents or whoever else) has managed to catch a particular wave and build a personal brand around it.”

    She has been shamelessly exploited by the media and her parents. ‘Children are the future’ has been a tool for totalitarians since time began, this is just the latest example of it. She. to me, just looks like a clueless fanatic who can’t be called out because ‘won’t someone think of the children!’.

  8. @David Moore

    There’s definitely a lot of power in being a person it “isn’t allowed”, at least in polite society, to dissagree with.

    For what it’s worth, personally I’m in favour of more environmental protection and I really have done the giving up meat, no flying malarkey. But if governments are going to go in for this stuff, you do want them to apply their powers in a rational way and with a certain appreciation of the practical issues it could cause people. (Those with a sharp eye for hypocrisy will have noted I didn’t include “gave up the car and use public transport instead” in my list of supposed virtues, which would certainly have health and environmental benefits far beyond the climate change debate, but simply isn’t feasible for where I live and the work I do. And I don’t have the time to go around sourcing or creating my own “plastic-free” versions of all the paraphernalia of modern life.)

    I’m concerned that the “prophet” approach to environmental campaigning undermines the seriousness with which many legitimate points are taken. It ties in with social media-driven trends that place disproportionate attention on issues like plastic straws which are basically irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I also don’t like that it gives politicians an “out” simply to be seen to listening to the latest prophetic announcements, and to either declare a wave of policies that address the trendy but irrelevant crud, or to make essentially vacuous declarations of there being a “climate emergency” or whatever. Almost invariably with the politicians making no personal sacrifices themselves…

  9. Put simply, Ms. Greta Thunberg is little more than a green sock-puppet, initially for her drunken and embittered mother (who gave her the fetal alcohol syndrome and other development issues which make her so “weird”)

    Who now controls Ms. Thunberg is anyone’s guess.

    This just goes to illustrate the problems with indulging in your children’s delusional fantasies. Nothing good will come of it.

  10. There are still people who believe the BBC does impartial journalism. I mean they still sincerely believe this, not cynically state it.

    It’s amazing.

    There was a meme going round Twitter a few weeks ago which was something like:
    “is that true, or did you see it on the BBC?”

    Unfortunately it didn’t get to escape velocity and didn’t make it in to the MSM, for some reason that is beyond me.

  11. “I call on my colleagues to boycott Greta Thunberg. We do not need gurus of the apocalypse,” Guillaume Larrive, who is running to be leader of Les Republicains, said on Twitter.

    It seems to be the trend for leaders of the old conservative parties to be acting like enormous tantrum-throwing toddlers, so he would fit the mould. At least a teenager is showing us how to lead.

  12. “school climate strike”

    Students going on “strike” is one of the stupidest things our modern world takes seriously. The concept is like a giant flashing neon sign indicating that our education systems are a joke. WTF is society supposed to take from that? Oh, noes! Wherever will we get our future pretentious bile if they walk out of their classrooms today! Actually, come to think of it perhaps such things should be encouraged. By all means, kiddies. Go on “strike”. Leave the real education to people who understand the value of it.

  13. Didn’t Miss Thunberg’s sudden appearance on the scene coincide with the release of her mother’s book of apocalyptic eco-drivel?

  14. I’d be fascinated, MBE, why you think giving up meat is “good” for the environment.. Meat is a subclass of the biological systems break down vegetable matter. And almost all vegetable matter ends up being broken down. It’s all food for something. And there’s little difference in the chemical processes consuming organisms deploy to do so.
    Any land capable of supporting vegetation will support vegetation unless some active measure is taken to prevent it. And there’s not much difference in the types of vegetation doing so. An acre of grass intercepts the same amount of sunlight as an acre of forest & chlorophyll uses the energy to combine atmospheric CO2 + water etc into cellulose, starch or sugars. There’s not even much difference in the efficiency with which they do it. Kilo for kilo of photosynthesising leaf.Trees sequestrate cellulose for somewhat longer, in the short term than grass. But less in the long term. Grasslands produce carbon rich soils. Forests generally don’t.
    So it really doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether you eat meat or not. It’s just a personal preference for what sort of organism eats plants & which particular plants get eaten.

  15. @bis

    Meat and dairy reduction makes sense in terms of environmental footprint, particularly thinking about land area required to feed a person, and the crops grown purely to feed animals. Hence less cutting down of forests or jungle or conversion of other wilderness to cropland. No need for everyone to go vegetarian – even without having an argument about pastures suitable for grazing but unsuitable for arable cultivation, clearly some level of hunting and fishing is sustainable – and I have little time for the fanatics who think anyone partaking in meat or dairy consumption is committing a great evil. But I think there’s a strong case that more wild land and wildlife (or reduced losses of both, at any rate) could be achieved by changes to the average diet. And obviously since not everyone wants to change at all, some of that average-shifting will inevitably come from other people effectively overcompensating. I suspect my dairy and egg habit largely cancels out any benefits from my meat aversion, to be fair…

  16. Or to put it more succinctly, environmental concern can be about habitat not just atmospheric chemistry.

  17. Meat eating is required for sustainable agriculture – without animals producing manure which can then be applied to crops, you have no source of sustainable fertiliser. So if you wish to have a fully sustainable food production system, farming animals for meat are a key part of that. As was the case for millennia before the advent of artificial fertilisers post WW2. The only other alternative is to complete the nitrogen cycle by using human excrement as fertiliser, which is generally not a good idea for disease reasons, and of course the problem that the people generally do not live where the food is produced, so there’s a transportation issue as well.

  18. @Jim

    But this stuff is a matter of degree, no? You can farm in a way that is more heavily weighted towards meat production or less heavily weighted. And the broad trend is that an average population diet that incorporates less meat would mean less space required for human consumption, and so less wild habitats needing to be converted to cultivation.

    Your point about manure is a valid one – this (apparently somewhat controversial) paper points out how some of the carbon emission benefits of reduced animal consumption would end up being lost again by the need to industrially synthesise more fertiliser. (My very much non-expert understanding is that that some level of industrial synthesis is necessary regardless of dietary composition, because there just isn’t enough manure for a sustainable closed cycle.) Together with other problems of an animal-free agricultural system, such as produce you couldn’t put in the human food chain but which animals would have eaten, they reckon that a vegan America would reduce carbon emissions but not by as much as might naively have been expected.

    In terms of land requirements and a more realistic “mixed” diet…

    Strategies for environmental sustainability and global food security must account for dietary change. Using a biophysical simulation model we calculated human carrying capacity under ten diet scenarios. The scenarios included two reference diets based on actual consumption and eight “Healthy Diet” scenarios that complied with nutritional recommendations but varied in the level of meat content. We considered the U.S. agricultural land base and accounted for losses, processing conversions, livestock feed needs, suitability of land for crops or grazing, and land productivity. Annual per capita land requirements ranged from 0.13 to 1.08 ha/person-year across the ten diet scenarios. Carrying capacity varied from 402 to 807 million persons; 1.3 to 2.6 times the 2010 U.S. population. Carrying capacity was generally higher for scenarios with less meat and highest for the lacto-vegetarian diet. However, the carrying capacity of the vegan diet was lower than two of the healthy omnivore diet scenarios. Sensitivity analysis showed that carrying capacity estimates were highly influenced by starting assumptions about the proportion of cropland available for cultivated cropping. Population level dietary change can contribute substantially to meeting future food needs, though ongoing agricultural research and sustainable management practices are still needed to assure sufficient production levels. …

    Two key lessons have emerged from the literature. First, livestock products are a major contributor to land requirements associated with Western diets (van Dooren et al., 2014). Gerbens-Leenes et al. (2002) developed one of the first approaches to estimating land impacts of diet, and compared the land requirements of meeting current consumption patterns in 14 European countries and the U.S. (Gerbens-Leenes and Nonhebel, 2003). In all cases, meat, dairy, and fats accounted for the majority of land requirements. Similar patterns have been observed by subsequent studies of Sweden (Geeraert, 2013) and Germany (Meier and Christen, 2013). While studies of China (Li et al., 2013) and the Philippines (Kastner and Nonhebel, 2010) suggest that meat, dairy, and plant oils require a much smaller share of agricultural land, these patterns will likely change over time. Empirical evidence shows that consumption of meat and dairy products increases as a country’s per capita income increases (Cranfield et al., 1998; Regmi et al., 2001) and that consumption patterns in middle-income countries are converging with those in higher-income countries (Regmi et al., 2008).

    The second lesson is cautionary. While livestock production is the largest land user on Earth, simplistic thinking about dietary change must be avoided (Herrero and Thornton, 2013). Reviews of life cycle assessments of livestock systems and protein products show, definitively, that land use per unit of protein is generally lower with plant than animal sources (de Vries and de Boer, 2010; Nijdam et al., 2012). However, they also demonstrate a wide range among individual livestock products and among different systems producing the same livestock product. In addition to this variability in area of land required, the quality of land required differs as well. Modeling studies suggest that the largest fraction of land needs for ruminant animals are from forages and grazing lands (Wirsenius et al., 2010; Peters et al., 2014), which are often grown on non-arable land. Thus, reducing the most land-intensive products in the diet does not necessarily equate to freeing up land for cultivation. Finally, the land needs for producing animals do not always follow linear patterns, and can change rapidly when supplies of residual forage (Keyzer et al., 2005) or oilseed byproducts (Elferink et al., 2008) have been exhausted. When it comes to interpreting the land impacts of dietary change, caution is warranted. …

    Dietary change has been proposed as part of a strategy to ensure future food security for a growing world population while addressing environmental challenges associated with agricultural production. The findings of this study support the idea that dietary change towards plant-based diets has significant potential to reduce the agricultural land requirements of U.S. consumers and increase the carrying capacity of U.S. agricultural resources. Future work is needed to determine the best way to share this productive bounty with the rest of the world, but potential for dietary change to influence land requirements and carrying capacity is clear. Diet composition matters.

    This study focuses attention on some underappreciated concerns. While agricultural land is often discussed in the aggregate, our analysis shows that accounting for the partitioning of land between grazing land, cultivated cropland, and perennial cropland has a strong influence on estimates of carrying capacity. Indeed, we demonstrate that under a range of land use conditions, diets with low to modest amounts of meat outperform a vegan diet, and vegetarian diets including dairy products performed best overall.

  19. “But this stuff is a matter of degree, no? You can farm in a way that is more heavily weighted towards meat production or less heavily weighted.”

    Yes and no. The problem is that to produce the amount of food we do now (of both animal and vegetable origin) requires huge amounts of artificial fertilisers. If we eliminated them in order to become sustainable then the amount of food produced would be far smaller. But the far smaller amount of food would still require meat production, interwoven into the growing of plants, to provide the manure. Ie a return to the old mixed farming of 100 years ago – the nitrogen cycle existed within each farm itself. You could still have some specialisation, with intensive animal units supplying manure to intensive plant producers, but that would be limited by the distances it was economic to transport manure, Having whole countries specialising in either livestock or cereals would become unviable. The production of plants and the production of livestock would have to be far more integrated than today.

    The fundamental point remains – a fully vegetarian diet is not a sustainable agricultural system – it requires artificial fertiliser to replace the nutrients taken out of the soil by the plants. Any form of sustainable agriculture must include livestock therefore, so anyone suggesting that the elimination of meat is the key to sustainable agriculture is lying (or just completely ignorant, which given the state of education these days is entirely possible, even to university level).

Comments are closed.