World leaders are currently meeting in Paris to discuss the issue of climate change and propose solutions to, well, we aren’t exactly sure what. To keep the world’s climate from changing? To stop “warming,” if indeed that is happening?
Their target, of course, is fossil fuels; the eco-utopian elites claim that their use must be curbed and ultimately stopped. Coal, gas, and oil are all causing the earth to warm and will result in the destruction of the planet, so we are told. So sayeth the prophets of a new religion. The science is settled, the debate closed. Naysayers and doubters and skeptics need not utter a word; in fact, the response of the believers is to silence all “deniers” - indeed, to punish them.
But let’s pull back. In a century that saw tens of millions die as a result of the twin great utopias, Nazism and Communism, the single greatest achievement in the 20th century, outside of defeating those utopian ideologies, was the lifting out of poverty of millions of people around the globe. There is much we take for granted in the West - nothing more so than the simple act of being able to turn on a light. Yes, electricity.
One hundred years ago electric power for all was not a given, even in the United States. It still is not a given around much of the world today; it certainly was not the case as recently as, say, 1970. For those who have gone from starvation, disease-ridden drinking water, and utter squalor, to now being able to feed their children and see the risk of disease drop dramatically, the world has changed immeasurably. How did it happen, and how is it still happening in India, China, Africa, and other parts of the world?
The force that has empowered hundreds of millions is made possible by fossil fuels. The same thing that revolutionized the West in the 19th and early 20th centuries is still happening elsewhere around the world.
So it is time to celebrate, yes? After all, we rejoice that poverty is less of a scourge than ever before. We rejoice that millions of children will not die in infancy of untold numbers of diseases. But, no - for the eco-utopians this is not a time of celebration, but of desperate urgency. Their war against fossil fuels is being driven by a religious fervor matched only by the one emanating from the hot desert sands of the Middle East. Nothing and no one must stand in its way. After all, if you are fashioning a heaven on earth, if you are creating utopia, what is the loss of any number of souls, if it means saving the planet?
The end of fossil fuels, when it comes, will come at the hands of human ingenuity, not forced diktat. In time, we will accept that the earth warms and cools by the actions of the sun, not by our own hubris and arrogance. Until then, may we stop this utopian march back to the Stone Age and a time of cold and dark and death and disease?
Michael Finch is the COO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the author of a recently-published book of poems, Finding Home