In the 1980′s the term “Voodoo Economics” was coined to describe economic nostrums which offered solutions, the consequences of which could not be traced back to the original policy proposal. Voodoo Economics was the answer to the politician’s prayer for it offered the ultimate – power without responsibility.
If you can assert ” terrible things will happen unless we follow my plan” then you profit in one of three ways.
If adopted, and your warnings were meaningless, you claim the kudos of averting tragedy.
If it is not adopted then every bad event becomes attributable to the failure to have followed your lead.
In the unlikely event of your plan being adopted, and bad things happening, you can either blame poor implementation, or bemoan ” too little, too late”.
It goes without saying, as Harriet Harman might testify, that being a politician means never having to say you’re sorry.
Brother Ivo was reminded of this as he read Bishop Steven Crofts address to the Sheffield Diocesan Synod, which you may read here . Bishop Steven devotes its entirety to the issue and dangers of climate change, of which he is plainly a conviction Bishop and evangelist.
As he read Bishop Steven’s address, Brother Ivo was been moved to identify a new economic ideology which paradoxically has a long pedigree. It is called ” Gruffalo Economics”.
If you have not read the children’s story or seen the film, it’s all splendid nonsense. Mouse walks through a forest meeting a selection of dangerous creatures whom he bamboozles by bluffing that he is going to meet an even more terrible creature called the Gruffalo whose arrival is imminent. The refrain is repeated” Silly old snake/fox/owl etc, don’t you know, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo.”
Bishop Steven has a right to believe or promote such views as he wishes; he is plainly sincere, but Brother Ivo equally feels the need to offer a word of caution from his own lengthy experience in such matters
The Green movement has been operating on the basis of Gruffalo Economics for much of its life. For the early few years Brother Ivo was “in the room” as the movement tried to define itself, and remembers well how the different approaches to what a Environmental politics might look like contended for ascendancy. In those early days there was a wide coalition within the then Ecology Party.
It had been formed by conservationist Teddy Goldsmith, brother of Jimmy Goldsmith. Teddy’s thinking encapsulated a rather William Morris suspicion of modernity and advocated a return to smaller communities, localism, craft skills organic farming and conservation. He was a fan of EF Schumacher’s book “Small is Beautiful” which stands at the polar opposite of Big Government solution politics.
His Daily Telegraph orbituary defined his problems with the party he founded rather well.
“Over the years this belief cost him friends and allies as the green movement drifted gradually to the political left. His stubbornly conservative vision, and his commitment to “stability”, “tradition” and the teachings of ancient religions were at odds with the views of “progressive” green proponents of “multiculturalism” and “social justice”.”
That contending Leftist faction included members of Sid Rawles’ Peace Convoy, which started the first Glastonbury Festival, and overwintered in Tepees in North Wales. There were factions of Libertarians, Greenham Common Feminists, and followers of the European radical leftist movements; older readers may recall that the 1968 Paris rioters were led by Danny the Red- well, he became Danny the Green, which probably explains everything one needs to know about how many old style conservationists came to be driven out, not least by an unhealthy dose of intolerance and political correctness.
Gruffalo economics emerged from the need of the radical Left to reinvent itself, as communism was then in full retreat after multiple failure. Mrs Thatcher was the political mistress of all she surveyed, so the Left gazed back with longing to the Second World War and the post war consensus when the country united and made sacrifice in the face of a common enemy. If only a sufficient existential threat could be identified, then the collectivist Statist interfering cause might not yet be lost.
So began the search for that threat, and the net was cast widely and frequently.
First we had the Silent Spring theory, which killed millions of third world children as we prematurely rejected the use of the DDT that might have eliminated the malaria bearing mosquito which is the biggest killer of human beings, especially children, in human history.
Then there was the fight against nuclear power which has not only delivered more, cheaper, energy than any other, but proved safer than any of us dreamed, Chernobyl and Fukushima, notwithstanding. It takes an earthquake or Governmental bureaucratic neglect to cause such problems, and yet, Govermental bureaucratic interference is what the Greens in their current incarnation favour and promote at every opportunity.
Do you remember the panic fomented over the Millenium Bug? The Y2K campaign imposed massive costs on businesses and multiple organisations as we were all encouraged to believe that the aircraft would fall out of the sky, our power stations would fail, our data systems be wiped out.
Chicken Licken was an eternal optimist compared to the folks who were selling the Y2K fixes.
Somehow we survived.
We also survived scares over 245T, genetic engineering of crops, Microwaves, electricity pylons, wi-fi, Global Cooling and the exhaustion of oil and a vast number of other minerals which the ‘experts” of the 1960 Club of Rome were certain would have peaked with catastrophic consequences by the year 2000 when they published the seminal work of the Green Movement “Blueprint for Survival”
Christians ought to be familiar with the concept of Millenarian existential angst, and why Brother Ivo gently invites Bishop Steven to approach these matters by asking the age old question ” Qui Bono”?
It may not be the world’s poor.
The principle beneficiaries of the Global Warming campaign will include:-
The academic community – especially Climatology Departments ( which previously predicted Global Cooling). Their research grants depend upon proven utility. There are no funds of prizes for saying “Nothing to see here, please move on”.
Politicians, who need lofty distraction from their more obvious failures. (See Al Gore) In this country, a passing acquaintanceship with the MP’s Register of Interests of Climate Change promoting MP’s like Tim Yeo, is interesting.
Carbon Credit traders the largest of which include General Electric and Johnson and Johnson ) GreenChip.com promotes its products thus
Carbon Market Potential
According to a recent New York Times article, carbon trading is one of the “fastest-growing specialties in financial services.” And companies are scrambling to get a slice of a market now worth well over 100 billion and that could grow to $1 trillion within a decade.
If you thought the last Banking crisis built on financial derivatives was the result of a scam you might begin to question a trillion dollar industry built on similar ephemera.
Environmental journalists for whom climate change is the gift that keeps on giving. The BBC is committed to breaching its charter requiring balance, following a meeting on the subject at which 50 supporters and no opponents were invited; it took a Freedom of Information request and litigation to drag those facts into the public domain. Jimmy Savile was not the only beneficiary of BBC lack of transparency
Green industries especially those whose products are unviable in the market place and need subsidy. If you look at the story of the bankrupt US firm of Solyndra you will see how public money can be lavished and wasted on total economic no-hopers in the Green Technology field. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer money was wasted. Money that could have been better spent on the actual poor.
Clergy in search of “relevance” Bishop Steven couches his concerns in an interesting way, appending it as a sixth evil to be added to the five identified by William Beveridge in his report which established the Welfare State. He also identifies those times as somewhat idyllic in their idealism. That ethos did also make Britain the economic sick man of Europe whilst the rest of the world flourished in post war boom.
The free market has subsequently made a rather good job of significantly reducing squalor, ignorance, want, and disease within our country. There are still things to be achieved, but those of us who recall 50’s Britain are well placed to remember how well we finally responded to those challenges.
There remains one of those identified Beveridge evils which is still unaddressed, even as the economy grows with the help of industrious immigrants.
Can anyone imagine any Bishop taking a stand on the issue of “idleness”? Not involuntary unemployment, but the evil of voluntary idleness, the lack of interest in the jobs that have been created but are taken by others who have travelled far with independence ambition and a determined work ethic.
This is not an attempt to demean Bishop Steven for whom he has high regard, neither is this an attempt to comprehensively “Fisk” his address.
As the Bishop has chosen to devote a significant amount of time to think about the issue, and to speak publicly however he invites an intellectual challenge and will surely accept that his is not the last word, and there is more to be said, but first we must honestly examine and challenge everything, not least received wisdoms.
Reading the address, Brother Ivo sees no reference to the fact that there remain real climate experts who are are less than convinced of human responsibility for climate fluctuation, or that much can be done about it.
There is no cautionary reference to the fact that contrary to the predictions of the “majority of experts” there has been no increase in the earth’s temperatures for 17 years ( notwithstanding the Chinese economy booming without carbon capping) or that polar ice and polar bear populations have expanded rather than disappeared, as was formerly asserted.
Neither do we see reference to patent unreliability in some of the early persuasive tools of the Climate Change lobby. The famous “Hockey Stick” graph which depicted a sudden catastrophic surge of temperature unless we eviscerated the economy, bore no depiction of the medieval warming period which every serious climatologist will tell you existed and occurred in a period without significant carbon emission. That omission tells you something about the unbalanced nature of some of the expert opinion.
This is the biggest problem with Gruffalo Economics, the facts continually prove rather unamenable to the argument.
Bishop Stephen points out the problem is both very simple and very complex. He is right there, as he is when he repeats the mantra that 97% of scientists subscribe to anthropromorphic global warming. he also prays in aid the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Just think about that a moment.
The Clue is in the word “Government”.
The IPCC is not unrelated to the murky unscientific world of politics. It is headed by a “scientist” -an Indian railway engineer.
If an Intergovernmental Panel on Christianity were to be established, headed by a railway engineer, Brother Ivo suspects (and hopes) that Bishop Stephem might allow himself a few more caveats than seems apparent on this topic.
Readers may wonder if Brother Ivo is being simply contrarian as he invents Gruffalo Economics based upon his past close association with the Green movement and its scaremongering tactics. He therefore calls in aid the unquestioned expertise of MIT Professor of Climatology Richard Lindzen.
“Global warming, climate change, all these things are just a dream come true for politicians. The opportunities for taxation, for policies, for control, for crony capitalism are just immense, you can see their eyes bulge,” he says.
“Even many of the people who are supportive of sounding the global warning alarm, back off from catastrophism,” Lindzen said. “It’s the politicians and the green movement that like to portray catastrophe.”
So here is the challenge to Bishop Steven and his fellow Bishops.
Before aligning the Church too readily with this overtly political movement, do help us with a helpful deconstruction of the self interest of those most vociferously advocating it. There is good precedent for putting the mighty down from their seats and there are many enhancing their power and their wealth by riding upon the coat tails of anthropomorphic global warming.
Who benefits from Gruffalo Economics?
Let Brother Ivo offer a useful starting point.
It is those who want to enrich themselves at our expense and those who wish to extend power over our lives. Not everyone who wrings their hands and cries ” Think of the poor, think of the children!” is to be trusted.
We are enjoined to be gentle as doves – but also as wise as serpents.
Ps In the story there is a Gruffalo
PPS It is just a children’s story