by Chris Morrison
With COP26 dominating the headlines it is hardly a surprise that 2021 has been another vintage year for eco crackpots and hypocrites. Leading the charge was Boris Johnson who flew to Glasgow on a private jet to inform the conference there was “one minute to midnight” to save the world and then flew back to London to attend a private dinner at the Garrick club. The Foreign Minister of Tuvalu caused a stir by warning of rising sea levels and delivering his speech in a foot of water. Although the Tuvalu islands have gained in size recently, the Foreign Minister avoided a charge of hypocrisy since his photo-op was an obviously sincere attempt to shakedown gullible western taxpayers.
In March, the British Army’s newly-appointed Director of Climate Change and Sustainability lost no time in floating the idea of electric tanks and more veggie meals in the mess. Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said there was a distinct future possibility that 20 tonne tanks would be powered by green energy. One must hope that any future conflicts take place in sunlight or the enemy agrees an initial ceasefire for charging stations to be installed on the battlefield. Later in the year, Nugee was suggesting that global warming would cause the military to lose training days because it was too hot. Quite how his dopey remarks went down in SAS barracks, where solders are trained to undertake operations in temperatures between -15C and 45C, can only be guessed at.
In January the Isle of Wight council considered planting trees to offset all the island’s CO2 emissions. By 2030 it would mean doubling the area covered by trees, something that was said to be not “totally impossible”. The estimable climate writer and retired accountant Paul Homewood did the maths and found almost the entire island would have to be turned into a forest. Of course, the trees would die within 40 years and the C02 would return to the atmosphere. In Brazil a group of academics suggested that climate change had led to a significant increase in hospitalisations for kidney disease. Marginal increases in temperature could affect almost anything, but a more credible explanation in this case might be better diagnosis in an improving local health care system.
The Potty Prelates section is always highly contested, but this year’s standout winner is the Archbishop of Canterbury. He told COP26 politicians that if they didn’t stop climate change by following an unproven science hypothesis they would be guilty of indirect genocide. Those who failed to take the necessary action, said Justin Welby, “would be viewed in an even worse light than those who had ignored the rise of Nazi Germany”. Pure ecclesiastical class of course, although some points were deducted when he issued a hasty apology following the broadcasting of his remarks on the BBC.
The wartime theme was used by Joanna Lumley who called for rationing to combat climate change. It would be up to people to decide whether to spend their points on a bottle of whiskey or flying in an aeroplane. People should holiday at home said the sometime travel documentary presenter, and not hop on a plane to Magaluf for the weekend. Presumably Lumley intends to ration her own consumption in the future, unlike fellow thespian Dame Emma ‘First Class’ Thompson. She flew from Los Angeles to London in 2019 to address the Extinction Rebellion (XR) mob in Oxford Circus from a large pink boat. Asked if she flew economy, the grande Dame replied: “I bloody well don’t, no.”
It was a tricky year for many national treasures with Sir David Attenborough letting the genial mask slip a bit to reveal a harder edged Malthusian side. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he suggested the Earth would be better off without the human race, members of whom he described as “intruders”. In 2013 Attenborough suggested that sending bags of flour to famine-struck areas like Ethiopia was “barmy”. At the time the Guardian reported that he was calling for more debate about population control. Without action, he said, “the natural world will do something”. In 2009, Attenborough became the patron of the Optimum Population Trust and told the Guardian: “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people – or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.”
Anti-human sentiments are rarely far from the green narrative. In 2019, Anglia Ruskin University Professor Patricia MacCormack wrote a book suggesting humans were already enslaved to the point of “zombiedom” because of capitalism, and “phasing out reproduction is the only way to repair the damage done to the world”. You just can’t please some people. It is not enough for them to have a “climate emergency”, now they want to declare a “nookie emergency”. But at least most of them stop short of Clemsom University Philosophy Professor Todd May who has asked if human extinction would be a tragedy. He thought it might be a good thing “for those of us who are currently here to end our lives in order to prevent further animal suffering”. This policy, he accepted, would cause “significant suffering” among those who had much to lose by dying.
Talking of suffering brings us, inevitably, to the continuing antics of Extinction Rebellion. Demanding better loft insulation, an XR sub group called Insulate Britain caused chaos by blocking main roads in the south of England. In the process they put their own lives and the lives of those seeking urgent medical attention at risk. The protests eventually died away in the face of contempt of court penalties and robust counter action from angry motorists. On these occasions your correspondent is more of an eggs and soft tomatoes man, but the matter seems to have been resolved with bottles of Royal Blue Quink.
Finally, what news of Laura Amherst, the Brighton student who took off her kit for the planet and said she was going on hunger strike to save the environment? A devout XR supporter, she said in October that she was “prepared to die” for climate justice. Happily, the social media regular, dubbed ‘Booby Sands’ by one twitter wag, is still with us. It is possible that once the cameras disappeared and the virtue embonpoints had been safely banked, the strike collapsed at the first whiff of a Big Mac and large fries?