Ecology has reconnected the fundamental and sacred link that connects the environment to man. With this communion, it fills the void left by religions in an age of technological explosion. But it feigns ignorance of the gap that is widening on all sides between the political application of its principles and the assessment of its results.
The global dimension of the phenomenon and the unprecedented sums devoted to it justify an attempt to analyse its origin and approach, as well as its hidden motives and the geopolitical consequences that may be expected from it.
The two parts of this article will deal with these two facets of political ecology.
The origins of the creed
André Malraux perceived the dimension of this mystical void when he wrote: “I think that the task of the next century (… ) will be the reintroduction of gods into it“. Envisaging these gods “in a form as different from that which we know, as Christianity was from ancient religions“, but as necessary gods, like “torches lit one by one by man to illuminate the way that removes him from the beast.”
It is in this context that he borrowed the unambiguous quote from André Frossard “The 21stcentury will be mystical or will not be”.
This quest for the sacred has opened the way for a whole procession of gurus, terror professionals, whose business rests, as always, on the original sin: that of knowledge.
The return of obscurantism
In contrast to the Age of Enlightenment, its cult of reason, knowledge and progress, the emerging 21st century now displays its mistrust of science and carefully examines every advance for the hidden hand of the lobby group most likely to have manipulated it.
In the name of the god Nature, this century sees the return of man’s original sin, by his very nature harmful to the environment around him, and the requirement for his penance, linked to the myth of an apocalypse caused by mankind.
And political ecology has rushed into this rift, brandishing both the spectre of the end of the world and the delights of paradise lost.
However, risk management is a profession that cannot be swayed by emotion, but has to rigorously weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each possibility.
And while political ecology is happy to manipulate our fear without troubling itself with assessments, it has forgotten that while every opportunity carries a risk, every risk carries an opportunity.
The worst danger does really lie in doing nothing and fearing to take any action at all.
The distrust of progress
Advances in biotechnology have reduced hunger in the world, but also disease and poverty.
However, each development of a new variety of seeds better adapted to its environment, or of plant health products that avoid crop destruction, is now perceived, a priori, as the work of the devil by modern ecology, whose constant refrain is to oppose any form of science as well as any progress or easing of burdens.
This is also why mistrust of vaccines is constantly increasing in Europe, despite them saving between 2 and 3 million lives each year.
Modern ecology advocates frugality and a return to primitive nature, and sets itself up in opposition to civilisation and industry, preferring a withdrawal into oneself in which self-sufficiency becomes a goal in itself.
It has its roots in the global counter culture of the 1960’s, a revolt against the authority of established society, with the desire to remove all restrictions and all obstacles to individual enjoyment.
Its theorists were generally from well-to-do and well-nourished backgrounds, which had provided them with a healthy upbringing, and all the comforts of polite society.
Nuclear power is the very incarnation of evil, as it currently represents the only form of energy that can be supplied in abundance with a minimum impact on the environment, and opens almost unlimited prospects thanks to the new generations of reactors.
However the problem of combining demographic change with access to energy is very real. The problem lies in the approach.
In “Enlightment now” on the other hand, Steven Pinker flags up the good reasons for ” justifying Reason” .
The aim here is not to judge the values of political ecology but to try to observe its workings and, most of all, to try to foresee its effects.
The West could become the butt of its own joke.
The principle of reality
Nicolas Hulot’s resignation must particularly call into question the impact of his post, which has this remit: “With regard to energy and the climate, it should develop and implement energy policy, in particular with a view to ensuring security of supply, the fight against global warming and access to energy, and to promote energy transition.”
The very implementation of the values of political ecology, through “energy transition”, threaten security of supply, while the reduction in the proportion of energy supplied from nuclear production that it advocates is in direct opposition to efforts against climate change, and access to energy.
The failure of this policy was predictable, it has now been duly noted by its own ministry in the monitoring of the national low carbon strategy.
Similarly, the doubling of intermittent power sources, of more than 100,000MW of German wind/solar power has still not enabled a single dispatchable MW to be closed , despite the billions of euros committed to their “Energiewende” (energy transition) For the good reason that while it may be easy to close a dispatchable power station, the recent Swedish blackouts must remind us that after that it is another matter to ensure security of supply .
And all the grandiose statements that accompany any communication on the subject will not change anything: intermittent wind/photovoltaic energies, mainstays of the modern discourse, have equally displayed their inappropriateness to replace any dispatchable power at all, or to participate in the headline reduction of CO2 emissions (eq).
This is particularly the case for France, for the good reason that grid already does not emit any.