The state of panic created by the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how vulnerable our world is and that it is perhaps time to reassess our priorities.
In spite of its famous green agenda, the European Union (EU) Members States have not managed to keep the pandemic under control. EU policymakers who have not embraced the green ideology are hard to come by. While protection of the environment, in particular air and water, is indeed necessary, in the EU the issue is not so much protecting our environment but rather a change of civilization. For years, many policy-makers have been aiming to move away from the consumer society and the market economy. In order to implement deep ecology, some call for immediate radical change; others are more realistic and understand that “degrowth” will take time, but their ultimate goal remains the same. Strongly supported by a largely subsidised press, environmentalists are taking advantage of the crisis are now calling for the end of the market society and to allow Members States to take control of the economy. They even claim that the Covid-19 crisis is a consequence of globalisation. More than ever, they demand the end of globalisation and a return to national markets because this will avoid the exploitation of natural resources in third countries. In limiting the imports from China for example, they hope that mining in Africa will be reduced and oil resources used for navigation will not be burn. World leaders should be aware of the strong anti-globalisation trend in some segments of the European political elite. In the meantime, the business sectors do not oppose to this green policy and on contrary they proclaim to adhere to the new EU credo and are publicly online with the media and politician team. For example, while the automotive sector is at stake, they always start their communication claiming that they adhere to the green agenda of the EU. Shell, a major Dutch/UK oil company, announced that they aim to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner. This means that they will have to close down all their well production and oil refineries, i.e. committing an economic suicide; this of course will not happen, but policymaker use this type of statement to convince citizen that this is the bright future. To help this strategy it is more and more question to introduce a high carbon tax on energy use. The European Commission is even proposing a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside the EU.
A State of Anxiety
In the meantime, the European green activists keep spreading an environmental and climate-change-panic virus, even during the COVID-19 crisis, thereby adding even more anxiety to the situation. They are calling for an immediate implementation of drastic measures to limit CO2 emissions. Here is a brief selection of what can be read in European medias. A Belgian climatologist and a former IPCC vice president tweeted to the Belgian Prime Minister to take advantage of the COVID-19 panic to introduce a carbon tax. Scientific studies on the environment take months or even years to analyse the complex relationship between a pollutant and health, but just a few weeks after the crisis began, a “study” by Italian ecologists claimed that the virus is carried by particles emitted by motor vehicles. The Italian environmental authority had to deny this.. “Fossil Fascism” expression is now used to describe activities involving the use of fossil fuels. Similar proposals are daily voiced in EU countries.
Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, is working hard to implement a green agenda through a Green Deal strategy. “The Green Deal is not a luxury that we drop when we hit another crisis. It is essential for Europe’s future“, he said at the European Parliament on April 21, 2020. He assured EU lawmakers that “every euro spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions”. At the same time, a “green recovery alliance” is being forged in the European Parliament, following an appeal by 12 European Environment Ministers for a “green” recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A minority of ministers have expressed the view that the implementation of this Green Pact should be slowed down, but their voice seems is insignificant compared to the green wave.
Why have green activists become so aggressive? Is it that they expect dismay over COVID-19 to strengthen enthusiasm for a green agenda and therefore strengthen enthusiasm for green politicians? The current situation looks exactly like the one the world green hard-core environmentalists dream of: very low mobility, in particular stopping air traffic, limiting tourism, using less oil products and natural gas, reducing goods consumption and more than others, relying on renewable energy (At present, demand for electricity in the EU is very low and since legislation requires that electricity produced by wind turbines and solar panels must be fed into the electricity grid as a matter of priority, the EU uses much more renewable electricity than traditional electricity.) Unfortunately for them, however, like it or not, our society requires stable, cheap, and abundant energy and electricity in particular, which would be absolutely unfeasible if we are to apply the solutions proposed by greens activists. Their 100% renewable solution is impractical today because when there is no wind or sun there would be no more production. The system is based on the backup of existing conventional installations (natural gas, coal or nuclear power plants). Without this backup, the intermittence of renewable energies would lead to repeated power failures. For the future, this will depend on solutions yet to be created, i.e. we are embarking on a totally uncertain future. Can you imagine what would happen if we were left at the mercy of intermittent, expensive wind and solar generation?
The Real-Scale Green Test
The way most of the EU looks during this state of emergency is a real-life foretaste of the green way of life that environmentalists are planning to impose onto EU first and then onto the world.
Green activists want to limit our mobility and to have us. One of them even proposed to use the economic slowdown as a way to eliminate low-cost airline companies. Some are asking for a ban on the sale of private cars. Others are asking for travel limits to 2 000 km/year, and no more air travel. For a long time, they have been asking to limit tourism because of its CO2 emissions. They argue that the cessation of ongoing tourist activities is a success and should be widely enforced. Far more than the measures taken by Russia and Saudi Arabia, to shrink their oil production in order to try to limit the oil price collapse the dramatic fall in the demand for travel due to the lockdowns required by the coronavirus, has been the main cause for a further plummeting of crude oil prices. The more serious consequence is that everyone in the car industry (and other sectors) has been thrown out of work. Travelling is part of our quality of life. We are not all Christopher Columbuses, but we all want ― need! ― to be able to go from one place to another.
Working and Studying
Will people accept long-term confinement? Will workers be happy with severely limited social contacts? Is this a sustainable work condition? Will people be happy to limit themselves to virtual visits of museums? Will they agree to stop going to bars and restaurants? Is distance teaching and learning realistic or effective, especially for children? Socialising, being with other people, is an essential part of our lives.
Having Enough Food, Drugs and Hospitals
Until the COVID-19 crisis, shopping for food was an activity we took for granted. The long queues and empty shelves in many shops have made us realize how crucial the food chain is. Because of COVID-19, in many countries, leaving one’s home has become prohibited except to buy food or medicine (and in Canada, alcohol and marijuana, as well). Can you imagine a world where transporting medical or food products is restricted? Can you imagine safety vehicles (fire, ambulance, police) running just on batteries? How could hospitals operate their life saving high tech medical machinery without stable, cheap and abundant electricity and without plastic that is produced by 13% of the world oil consumption?
Progress and Energy are the Future
The ongoing full-scale confinement experiment shows the hollowness of the green activists’ futuristic vision. Some countries have started to say it openly. The collapse of this life-size test should indeed be taken into account by policymakers because sooner or later, the population will be put off by the very idea of the green world if they are made actually to live in it. The amateur video or cartoon jokes exchanged on social media these days are excellent illustrations that the green world is not so desired.
There is an urgent need to get serious again and to admit that our economy and the jobs that it provides, our quality of life and our health cares, depend on abundant use of energy. Despite some environmental externalities like particulate emissions or noise, fossil fuels possibly together with a new brilliant nuclear energy, two solutions that environmentalists hate are essential in a modern society if we want to keep our way of life
The COVID-19 crisis highlights the fact that the world, particularly the developing world, will need more energy even if CO2 emissions will increase. We must stop worrying about the future temperatures that mathematical models predict for the future. First, results of models have been proved wrong until now and second, even Article 4 (b) of the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change recognize that adaptation should be part of the solution.
The hard fact is that, while they claim to be able to determine what the sea levels will be in the future, Western countries have not been able to produce and stockpile the health materials that are essential to save lives today and in the EU, hospitals are collapsing. Many EU government were dreaming of determining a green future, imposing it on their populations by law, and hoping to convince the rest of the world to follow their path. This was a utopia before the crisis has the crisis demonstrates; let’s not even talk about developing countries. Trying to convince others – especially African countries – to spend their scarce resources on green energy rather than sanitation, health care or education can be called a moral outrage.
Economic activity creates wealth; the green ideology does not: it spends the taxes paid by other people. Governments, however, no longer have money, and the abrupt shut-down of the economy in dozens of countries because of the self-isolation required by the coronavirus, will right away lead to a collapse of tax revenues in the Western world. We must therefore ensure that economic activity resumes in the West; as quickly as possible by stopping the inefficient and useless green waste. The latest annual UN-UNEP report, “Global trends in renewable energy investment”, reports that between 2010 and 2018, $2.6 trillion was spent worldwide to promote renewable energy production, of which the EU alone spent $700 billion. It can be estimated that, since 2000, well over a trillion euros have been spent in the EU. The large part of this funding has gone to wind and solar energy production. For what results? Wind and solar represents 3.1% worldwide and 2.5% in the EU.
Our technological society, in spite of all its shortcomings, will deliver the solution to the crisis, because it will provide the necessary drugs, tests and medical material. These are produced by the chemical and biotech industries that need stable, cheap and abundant sources of energy, on top of immense financial investment to develop and produce these essential materials.
Some politicians promise that once the COVID-19 havoc is are over, we will be better off than before. They may be right. But this will only happen if we focus on today’s basic needs on health, protection and innovation and stop worrying about hypothetical future climate changes predicted by computer models. Today’s problems need to be addressed with today’s solutions, tomorrow’s problems will be solved with tomorrow’s solutions. That is why we have to get science and technology ready to meet the needs of a high quality of life for all today and tomorrow.
Let us not forget that life expectancy at birth and Human Development Index (HDI) are increasing with energy consumption per capita, a link that the developing countries are acutely aware of. The Green agenda is opposed to this necessity to provide cheap and abundant energy despite CO2 emissions. Hence the need for us to stop trusting the green movement which claims to save the Planet rather than to save Mankind – which would seem to be the real urgency. We must resist even more knowing that the appearance of green companies is deceptive; the recent documentary film produced by Michael Moore exposes that crony capitalism has absorbed ecology.
While the COVID-19 virus may temporarily make us in Western Europe bend, we will not give in. We cannot stop it yet, but let us be confident that confronted with hard fact of the economy crisis that will request strict public spending the green ideology will utterly fail. Let us also hope that the green model being tested now on a large scale in Europe will vaccinate the rest of the World from the green virus which may well be even more dangerous than Covid-19.