By John Hayward – 10/05/2014
You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh at climate change cultist Eric Holthaus sobbing (literally) over the latest tract from the Church of Global Warming and deciding to do his bit to encourage a more primitive lifestyle by swearing off air travel for a year. As you read this, remember the one “consensus” that none of these loons can refute: the consensus of reality itself, where there hasn’t been any “climate change” for the past 19 years, and polar ice is hitting record levels, exactly the way absolutely none of their vaunted computer models predicted:
This week marks one year since I last flew on an airplane. To the likely dismay of Fox News, which called me a “sniveling beta male,” my decision didn’t result in a dramatic tailspin of self-loathing or suicide, the ultimate carbon footprint reducer. Quite the contrary: It’s been an amazing year.
My decision was prompted by a science report that brought me to tears. It wasn’t that the consensus statement was particularly new or noteworthy—we all know by now that climate change is one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced as a civilization — but that, for the first time, I realized that my daily actions were powerful enough to make a meaningful change.
On that day, I entered my own version of the Anthropocene and glimpsed a story I think merits far more attention: Climate change isn’t about fancy light bulbs or SUVs or distant glaciers. It’s about people. Real people who just want to live healthy, happy, interesting lives and raise our kids in a world that’s beautiful.
And keeping that world beautiful will require you Little People to live a more primitive lifestyle, making do without the cheap energy that has fueled the amazing prosperity of mankind – and, not coincidentally, the remarkable advances in legitimate environmental stewardship made by the most prosperous Western nations. You peons need to quit moving around so much, while your lords and masters soar overhead on luxurious private planes, or roll through the streets in limousine motorcades, or relax in the 10,000-square-foot mansions they use while their 20,000-square-foot mansions are undergoing renovations.
Some of the climate change cultists are starting to realize that normal people laugh at the sight of people like Leonardo DiCaprio strolling off a yacht the size of an ocean liner to address anti-carbon rallies. Thus we have Holthaus swearing off Demon Flight and waxing rhapsodic about the joys of his new, more relaxed travel style, which includes 360-degree spins on icy roads and traveling to Europe aboard a cargo ship:
My travel calculus now revolves around time, not money (and it’s freed up a lot of cash). It’s opened my mind more to enjoying the journey than just rushing to get to the destination. Cliché maybe, but true. Slower travel makes me appreciate where I am because I know how long it took to get there, I can feel it. And it makes me even more happy to get back home. (Plus, we can take the dog with us much more easily.)
Don’t get me wrong, I loved flying. I even, at one time, had a pilot’s license. But there’s something very unnatural about it. It warps your sense of time and place. Jetlag didn’t exist a hundred years ago.
My wife and I fell in love, in part, due to our shared fascination with international travel. And we’re not giving up on international travel. We still want to have new experiences and see parts of the world we haven’t seen. We’re just going to have to be more creative and patient. For example, a year ago, I never thought I’d consider planning a trip to Europe on a cargo ship. We’ll still encourage our children to travel internationally if there’s a reasonably climate-friendly way of doing so. (And if not, maybe by then scientists will have perfected real-life holodecks.)
I’m not pretending I’m on to something particularly novel here, just that our culture has at times overvalued quick, exotic travel in an era of climate change. It’s gotten to the point that, at least in the United States, train and bus systems prove to be pretty appalling alternatives. (On a recent round-trip Amtrak journey to New York, I was delayed five hours each way because freight trains had the right of way on the route I was taking. All the more reason that bus systems are the future.) At the very least, a carbon tax might help to level the incentives a bit.
Well, actually, we’ve been overvaluing quick, exotic travel in an era of no climate change, but this would be hilarious and sad even if the “climate change pause” wasn’t getting ready to roll into its third decade.
To each his own; I happen to enjoy long road trips myself. It’s always interesting to note how easily climate change alarmism slips into anti-capitalist, anti-progress rhetoric that boils down to romanticizing poverty. Yes, a world in which the Little People were forced to live without swift and convenient travel would be poorer, both in terms of the industries directly affected – European tourism would take quite a hit if Americans could only get there by renting bunks on cargo ships – and the secondary economic affects of less convenient travel. Likewise, moving away from Demon Carbon forces people to purchase more expensive, less convenient forms of energy, reducing their disposable income and leaving them at the mercy of sun and wind. That’s part of the romantic allure of the climate change cult, as believers take offense at what they perceive as human arrogance toward nature. It’s rather less romantic for people left to freeze when the icy winter wind dies, and the wind turbines stop spinning.
This “year of no flying” also illustrates the symbolic nature of the climate change movement, which is closer to the sympathetic magic of the witch doctor than “science” at this point. Believers are made to feel as if they’ve saved the planet every time they take some action that will reduce overall carbon emissions by a millionth of a percent. Such encouragements are ubiquitous in climate change propaganda, as is the corresponding demonization of the selfish bastards whose comfy middle-class lifestyles are raising carbon emissions by a millionth of one percent. The Earth does not care, at all, whether Eric Holthaus gives up flying for a year. As for those carbon-spewing celebrity high priests of the Church of Global Warming, people like Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio have carbon footprints thousands of times the size of an average American’s. The speakers at the big communism/climate change rally in New York last month generate more carbon emissions than the attendees.
Considering that the link between carbon and climate change is growing more tenuous – to the point where one of the scientists who first established that linkage, Lennart Bengtsson, got mugged by a mob of climate cultists for merely suggesting that the matter deserved further study in light of new evidence – and the climate change “pause” corresponded with an era of increased carbon emissions, while record high and low temperatures were logged a century ago, this business of sacrificing the benefits of modern life in the name of climate panic is more of a religious ritual than anything else. I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it, if the believers were intent only upon sacrificing themselves, voluntarily.