To invoke war or the danger of war to justify other political means is not really new. It has been often, and recently, used to curtail citizens rights and/or to limit the extend of democratic control of governments. In this interesting pod-cast (13 MB, duration 28 minutes) by the BBC, the tension between climate policy and democracy is discussed, among others, by James Lovelock, Mark Lynas and Michael Jacobs, advisor on climate change to the former UK Prime Minister Brown.
In previous posts here at the Klimazwiebel, some positions held by vocal climate researchers, purportedly smacking of stalinism, were criticized. This prompted probably justified responses that argued such comparison were far-fetched. Well, after hearing this pod-cast, I would say that I feel uneasy. There is indeed in some of the opinions expressed there a subtle - or clear - call for a limitation of democracy, faced by the most dangerous threat in the history of human kind. We have to go for broke, even if the bet on the table is democracy itself.
Not all opinions expressed in the podcast are one solid block, though. Whereas Lovelock would clearly defend an autocratic regime to impose severe emission cuts, Jacobs retorts that actually an autocratic regime would be detrimental for the climate cause: a regime like China would rather be more interested in pursuing economic growth to remain in power than in restraining emissions.
As an aside, I would share with you a personal experience that I felt when I moved to Germany 20 years ago. For me, the influence and power of the German Green party at that time was really surprising. After the fall of the wall, the Western Green party was augmented by bits of political grass-root movements from the former German Democratic Republic. I read and listened to their political messages and rhetoric anew, from a fresh perspective that probably many other German citizens could not have. Simultaneously, several historical television series were running episodes on Nazi Germany, some of them featuring not only the well-known events of the pre-war years and during the war itself, but also trying to explain its ideological roots. I could not avoid identifying, from my naïve perspective, clear similarities in their language and mostly in the 'kitsch' characterising their Weltanschauung: the cult for Boden (=Soil), Lebensraum, a society in harmony with nature and agriculture, their deep anti-capitalist views, etc. I am by no means implying that there is direct connection between 20th century nazism and 21st century German environmentalism, but I do have the feeling that their ideology partially drew from a common romantic substrate previously present in European culture of the 19th century, that has re-emerged in the last few decades.
Parts of environmentalism have however clearly recently changed, supporting now a decisive thrust in technological innovation and maybe nuclear power, rather than emphasizing energy restraint. Mark Lynas expresses it very clearly. Enjoy