On 21 April 2020, Michael Moore released Planet of the Humans, a internet documentary which tears into the modern American environmental movement for backing ‘green’ technologies that are anything but, and for enriching itself in the process.
None of the high priests of the Green Left are spared: Barack Obama and Van Jones are portrayed as ineffective disappointments; Vinod Khosla as a cynical money-grubber; and, Al Gore and Bill McKibben as Amazon-destroying plutocrats. Michael Bloomberg, the Sierra Club and 350.org are also in it for the indulgences. Even Earth Day is a shown to be a giant scam draining the earth of precious fossil fuels. (And just in case you thought that Michael Moore was secretly a Republican in disguise, the Koch Brothers make an appearance or two as comic bogeymen.)
It is left to academic Richard York to make the salient point that “nations that add non-fossil fuels do not seem to see a particular suppression of fossil fuels.” Worse, by plundering the globe for the short-lived materials needed for its infrastructure, green energy is causing untold damage to the environment.
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The response of the institutional Green Left? “It is a sewer,” writes Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone, while others are even less complimentary. You can tell the iGL is freaked when it is advising the faithful to “watch anything else!”
Don’t kid yourself about who will win this battle! Bill McKibben and his ilk may have massive muscle of corporate America behind them, but history favours the true believer. Both accusations – that green technology is destroying the planet, and that its promoters are just doing it for the money -are deadly to the cause! The damage has been done. Though the iGL might get to work persecuting the heretics, the fight for ‘reformation’ has begun.
Population control, anyone?
All of which begs the question, what sort of world are Moore and his iconoclast friends after?
With Planet of the Humans – as the title suggests – the focus of environmentalism switches from technological and industrial solutions to population reduction.
… we must at long last accept that it’s not the carbon dioxide molocule that’s destroying the planet. It’s us.
It’s not one thing, but everything, we humans are doing.
Although the film speaks at length about total global population as a problem because of the drain that it makes on planetary resources, it is almost entirely silent on what solutions to or outcomes from this state of affairs there might be.
There is a large and growing audience for this anti-progressive way of thinking, even among globalists. Davos Man wouldn’t need much encouragement to switch his attention from building wind turbines to killing unborn children, if the ‘future of the planet’ should demand it.
But to be fair, Moore’s piece isn’t on its face an advocacy piece for eugenics, third-world sterilization programmes, birth control, family planning, or any of that nonsense.
It is also encouraging to hear critiques of ‘endless progress’ and ‘endless growth’, even if legitimate concerns the political uses of this rhetoric. The embrace of sustainability and critique of corporate capitalism has always had an audience on the Right, particularly among paleoconservatives and other traditional conservative schools of thought, even where we disagree on potential solutions. The film’s degeneration, at points, into a more fundamental critique of human presence on the planet should however concern us.
Nearly every aspect of the world around you is subtly different than it was 70, 50, or even ten years ago. That’s thanks to free-market economics, competition, and the creativity of the human mind. Stand with the forces that made such progress possible and the future will be bright. Stand against those forces and we may have real reason for pessimism in the not-too-distant future.
However fascinating to watch, no American conservative should be smug about the real issues at stake. The institutional Right’s embrace of corporate capitalism and globalisation is equally problematic.
Industrialisation, mass production and globalisation – and the capitalism that makes them efficient – have allowed the enormous expansion of the planet’s population. Population is naturally self-regulating; for thousands of years, global population grew slowly, sustainably and with reverses, but it has always expanded in line with the resources available. But by artificially boosting the productive capacity of the global economy, global capitalism, communism and other ideologies which maximise production created the conditions for a ‘population balloon’. Now the question surely is, how will the air be let out?
For paleoconservatives, well-functioning communities are those which are largely self-reliant, autonomous and self-sufficient, and are fiercely independent. These communities realise their dependence on finite, local natural resources, and seek to use those in moderation. They understand that all pollution is local pollution. They understand that wild nature has its place. They are very hostile to colonists and outsiders who would exploit the resources under their charge. What little excess local production there is gets traded away for the few things that cannot be produced locally. The community will resist attempts to impose external, goal-orientated solutions on their patchwork quilt of mills, farms, cottages, villages and towns.
From the global perspective, in the ENM system, mercantilism is the endpoint while economic nationalism is the means to get back there. Economic nationalism involves the reestablishment of national boundaries for trade, and the partial replacement of taxes on income and property, with customs and tariffs, as the main source of state revenue. It has the potential to lead to a smaller state with fewer pretensions to run and regulate our everyday lives. ENM entails less ‘efficient’, but more resilient communities.
Autonomous communities like this exist around the world today, often in remote or mountainous locations. In areas where contact with modernity has led to the abandonment of community autonomy for dependence on “aid and trade”, communities involved invariably increase in line with the artificial increase in their resources, before declining or collapsing suddenly once those resources are withdrawn. Those communities, meanwhile, which retain their autonomy and self-reliance are still subject to local shocks, but are less susceptible to sudden collapse in the event of a global economic crash or war, and are more likely to develop their own resources to deal with external shocks.
To get back to this world, it will take a concerted effort to relocalise and demassify production. Governments can take a positive first step by abandoning the receipt and donation of foreign aid and increasing trade tariffs and barriers. Communities can start working out how to make things for themselves again, rather than expecting child labourers in third-world countries to do it for them. And, we should pursue natural green and low-footprint solutions rooted in vernacular patterns of travel, manufacturing, building and water control.
In other words, we need not population control, but more community self-regulation.
This is a future worth fighting for.