Rupert Darwall, a finance and policy analyst who was a special adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1993, is the author of the highly praised The Age of Global Warming (2014). His new book, Green Tyranny – Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex, is out now.
In it he traces the disturbing origins of the green agenda, the history of environmental alarmism and how ‘scientific consensus’ has been manufactured and abused by politicians who’ve demanded not only the rejection of abundant hydrocarbon energy resources, but also the total suppression of dissent.
Kathy Gyngell: Green Tyranny is much more than a manual for climate change policy sceptics, though your account of the greens’ irrationality is sufficient for that. What would you describe as the foremost lunacy of the alarmists’ anti-carbon agenda?
Rupert Darwall: Chapter 2 outlines the biggest, most hubristic lunacy of all: that top-down global central planners can bring about the third of mankind’s revolutions, the first two being the Neolithic Revolution (the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled societies based on agriculture) and the Industrial Revolution, which forms the economic basis of our civilisation, harnessing hydrocarbon energy to raise living standards, extend longevity and vastly expand how people are able to live their lives.
Global warming was first deployed for political reasons and it remains an intensely politicised project. Over the last two decades, it has become the most powerful weapon in the armoury of environmentalism, an ideology that seeks to repeal the Industrial Revolution. As with previous revolutionary and totalitarian attempts to override and crush human nature, it too will fail, but the attempt will come at vast cost.
K G: What sets your book apart and makes it such a page-turner is the shocking fascist early history of green politics, its entry into mainstream post-war politics and its dedicatedly anti-American and anti-democracy agenda. What triggered you to investigate this?
R D: A little background into how the book came to be written might help here. After my first book, The Age of Global Warming, was published five years ago, I was approached by someone with a long and extensive involvement in the politics of global warming. It was, he said, the best book he’d read on the subject, but it missed out crucial developments in Sweden and Germany. I looked at the evidence and saw he was right. The result is this book. The way I’d describe it is ‘Green Tyranny takes the reader up the dark side of the global warming mountain’.
K G: The tale you relate is complex. There are several transformations involved – national socialism to Marxism, 1968 student revolutionaries into the mainstays of EU institutions and a lateral arabesque, so to speak, from pro-nuclear to anti-nuclear pro-renewables policy. What is the common political thread?
R D: Green Tyranny is a tale of countries. Sweden started the war on coal at the end of the 1960s. It was embarking on a huge nuclear power programme and it wanted to scare Swedish voters that the alternative was building lots of coal-fired power stations. First they were told coal causes acid rain (did anyone tell you the science of the acid rain scare turned out to be wrong?) and then global warming. During the 1980s, no country did more to put global warming on to the international agenda and create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change than Sweden.
Germany is the hinge on which the narrative turns. Sweden’s nuclear plan came unstuck because of the rise of the violently anti-nuclear Greens in Germany. A wave of anti-nuclear protests swept West Germany in the late 1970s. The Greens were formed as a new party to capitalise on these protests. The new party brought together former Nazis and neo-Nazis under the same umbrella as far-Left radicals drawn from the same circle as the Baader-Meinhof terrorists. During the 1980s, the Greens formed a big part of the pro-Kremlin Peace Movement that campaigned to stop NATO putting in the nuclear missiles to counter Soviet SS-20s. Fortunately for the West, they lost, but the end of the Cold War saw the Greens gather strength, and in 1998 the first Red-Green coalition took power in Berlin.
As the Greens were the junior coalition partner, renewable energy was a political must-have if they were to survive. In the event, the Renewable Energy Act was hatched by a tiny cell of MPs, one of whom was also a renewable energy lobbyist, and most MPs didn’t know what was in the law when they voted for it. Having decided to hobble its economy with high cost, unreliable wind and solar power, Germany wanted to inflict the same disadvantage on the rest of Europe.
At the Spring 2007 European Council, Angela Merkel persuaded other European leaders to follow Germany when it agreed the principles of the EU’s disastrous renewable energy directive. Thus the greening of Germany led to the greening of Europe and the people who’d been on the wrong side of the Cold War turned out to be the biggest winners in the post-Cold War era.
K G: What intrigued me reading your book was not only the role of the major NGOs in funding and pushing the green agenda (no surprise there) but the extent to which they’ve been funded by US capitalism – by Silicon Valley oligarchs and progressive foundations they fund – so-called philanthropy. Isn’t this a shooting themselves in the foot exercise? What do they gain apart from virtue-signalling Brownie points?
R D: There’s a quick answer and a longer one. For the Silicon Valley billionaires, being signed up to saving the planet is a great way to protect themselves from being targeted as members of the top one hundredth of the top one per cent. As a strategy, it’s been highly successful.
The longer answer can be found in Chapter 5, where I suggest that the Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter, of ‘creative destruction’ fame, was right in arguing that capitalism brings about its own demise. Environmentalism unlocked capitalism’s fortresses, the doors were flung open and the enemies of capitalism invited in. Already in the late 1960s and early 1970s, captains of industry were debating how industrialisation was going to destroy the planet. The fact they were wrong then hasn’t stopped their modern successors from preaching and believing the same doomsday environmentalist creed.
K G: You detail how a powerful Green/Left network has come to occupy key political positions in Europe and the US, gaining control of institutions that in turn give them unquestioned authority over the subject and which, whether we like it not, now occupies the moral high ground. How do we counter their compelling message that we have to try to control the damage man has done to the planet?
R D: ‘Saving the planet’ should ring alarm bells because it’s not about saving the planet – the planet doesn’t need saving – but a radical, ideological project to change human society. The price paid for this is not only human in terms of the loss of freedom and the loss of prosperity – especially for the less well-off in the industrialised world and people in developing countries. It is also paid by nature. Saving the planet means sacrificing the local, which is how we end up with massed windfarms across hillsides, the massacring of birds of prey, migratory birds and bats (pressure waves from rotating turbines cause bats’ lungs to explode), environmentally destructive biomass policies that involve cutting down trees to use as fuel, and insane ideas like the Severn tidal barrage and the loss of irreplaceable natural habitats.
The book has a chapter on NGOs, quoting Stanley Baldwin: ‘Power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot’. In a media-saturated age, unaccountable NGOs have the extraordinary power that the newspaper barons once had, but no responsibility for the malign consequences of the policies they lobby for. The chapter also traces the transformation of WWF (the initials stood for World Wildlife Fund when it was about protecting wildlife) from an organisation founded to conserve natural habitats and preserve endangered species into an ideological one campaigning against population growth, industrialisation, nuclear power and fossil fuels (now WWF stands for World Wide Fund for Nature).
K G: Finally, Green Tyranny – a book I’d class as a potential bestseller with a cast which would find a place in a Robert Harris thriller – has yet to be reviewed by the major newspapers. Is it too challenging and so safer ignored, subjected to the ‘spiral of silence’ you describe in your recent National Review article?
R D: The spiral of silence describes the process whereby people’s opinions retreat into silence in the face of perceived social hostility, when they no longer hear people they meet or in the media voicing opinions similar to their own. This is what we see with global warming – critics are demonised and marginalised and their views are not represented on the media. In this, global warming harbours the political culture of the totalitarian (the idea of the spiral of silence was developed by West Germany’s foremost pollster who, wait for it, worked in Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda). The fact that the ideology of global warming seeks to extinguish criticism reveals its totalitarian nature and is crucial to its success as a tool of social manipulation. For that reason it must be fought by breaking the spiral of silence.
K G: Thank you.