Former US secretary to the United Nations John Bolton once famously said: “The [UN] Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” (H/T Milo)
But I’d say Bolton was being too modest in his aspirations. Far too modest. I’d suggest that if we lost all 38 stories the benefits to mankind would be almost incalculable. Right now, indeed, it’s likely that the United Nations poses a far greater threat to Western Civilisation and the world’s economic future than Al Qaeda does. Have a glance at its latest report World Economic And Social Survey 2011 – and you’ll see what I mean.
The report argues that over the next 40 years our governments must spend an annual minimum of $1.9 trillion – that’s an eyewatering $76 trillion – steering the global economy onto the path of “green growth.”
But “Green growth” – as the report more or less acknowledges – is an oxymoron. That’s why, even though it was supervised by an alleged economist, Dutchman Rob Vos, the report is not at all ashamed to advocate limiting economic growth through rationing, punitive taxation and other forms of government intervention. Why? To combat “Climate Change”, of course.
Here’s the kicker:
“Hence, if, for instance, emission reduction targets cannot be met through accelerated technological progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, it may be necessary to impose caps on energy consumption itself in order to meet climate change mitigation in a timely manner. Proposals to put limits on economic growth can be viewed in this context.” (P.19)
And if shaving off $1.9 trillion from the world economy each year (that’s 3 per cent of the world gross product in 2010) results in further economic stagnation and a lower standard of living for our children and grandchildren, well what the hell. As the report primly tells us, none of us actually needs to earn more than $10,000 a year. Anything more is greedy:
“For example, taking life expectancy as an objective measure of the quality of life, it can be seen that life expectancy does not increase much beyond a per capita income of about $10,000. Similarly…cross-country evidence suggests that there are no significant additional gains in human development (as measured by the human development index) beyond the energy-use level of about 110 gigajoules (GJ) (or two tons of oil equivalent (toe) per capita.”
Are they seriously suggesting that developed economies should ration their people’s energy use? They surely are:
“The Survey estimates that the emissions cap would be equivalent to primary energy consumer consumption of 70 gigajoules per capita per year, which means that the average European would have to cut his or her energy consumption by about half and the average resident of the US by about three quarters.”
So, instead of being able to enjoy a hot shower every day all you Americans, you’ll now confine your warm ablutions to weekends only. Same goes for air-con in summer. And heating in winter. Welcome to the New Green World Order.
What’s amazing about this stuff – and believe me, there’s plenty more where this came from – is the unblushing shamelessness with which it advocates this economic insanity. Here is the world’s most powerful intergovernmental institution essentially arguing for the destruction of the global economy, enforced rationing, Marxist wealth redistribution, greater regulation, the erosion of property rights and global governance by a new world order of technocrats and bureacrats. And being so upfront about it they actually issue press releases, telling us what they’re planning to do and encouraging us to write about it.
This is the thing that amazed while I was researching my book Watermelons. If the global green movement is any kind of conspiracy, then it’s a conspiracy in plain sight. The people in power who are advancing its agenda – be it President Obama’s house eco-activists John Holdren and Carol Browner, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and all those faceless apparatchiks at the UN and the EU – make absolutely no bones about what it is that they want to do to save the world from the peril of “Climate Change”: the end of Industrial Civilisation.
Which might be just about understandable if the crisis we were facing were so great that only the most extreme measures would suffice. But the crisis they describe is non-existent. As I argue in the second half of my book, economic growth and true environmentalism – as opposed to the sick, bastardised, warped, hair-shirt perversion of it currently being dumped on us by the Greenies – go hand in hand.
As economies grow richer, so they have more money to set aside for cleaner rivers, fresher air, as well as to invest in R & D projects for ever more eco-friendly forms of energy. It’s no coincidence that quite the worst environmental damage in the last century was done in those countries behind the Iron Curtain. Free market economies tend naturally to be cleaner and healthier because clean and healthy is what people choose anyway if they can afford it. They don’t need government to step in and take their money in order to spend it inefficiently trying to achieve something which would have happened quite naturally anyway.
What this ludicrous UN report is advocating is the exact opposite of what the world needs if it is to become genuinely greener. All those people in the developing world, if they’re to live healthier, less environmentally damaging lives the very last thing they need is hand-outs from richer economies. What they need is property rights and free trade and the chance to grow their economy to the point where – cf the Kuznets Curve – they can afford the luxury of having to breed fewer children and to heat and light their homes without having to chop down the nearest trees. What they also need for us in the rich West to have thriving economies in order that we can import more of their produce.
Rationing and limits to growth are not the answer. The UN is a menace and we listen to its eco-fascist ravings at our peril.