It has been a fair while since we’ve had any airport-runway closing action from the climate, erm… ‘community’. But today’s protest at London City Airport saw black and green seemingly unite.
The logic of this move is not obvious. Luckily, the UK’s sole Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas was rushed to the BBC to explain.
Pollution is worse in the inner city, says Lucas. And that’s where black people tend to live. Therefore, pollution is racist. Airports are especially racist. And of all the airports, City Airport must be the most racist airport, because it’s near the City, where mainly rich white people work.
As many observed, the protesters were mainly white, and this led to claims that black people’s victim status had been ‘appropriated’ by these mainly middle-class professional campaigners. But maybe Green is the new black, because if anyone is hard done by in this equation, it is the climate protester. Have some sympathy for him(/her/whichever non-binary gender-neutral pronoun applies), because they are Britain’s most ignored minority. Which is why Green has had to reinvent itself as black… Nobody took any notice of them.
Climate direct action is so passe, so 1990s. In the era of ‘social-justice’, intersectionalismists, and whatever Laurie Penny and Jack Monroe talk about, it’s not enough to be preoccupied with a single issue. A constellation of victim-identities and claims to victimhood produce a constantly shifting hierarchy of counter-privilege. So the greens have blackwashed their campaign. They have blacked-up.
Never mind that the logic of today’s stunt is extremely condescending to black people, to poor people, and to people living in the inner city… And never mind that closing down infrastructure is the last thing that would help the urban jobless or low-waged… Put to one side the ‘problematic’ of claiming to speak as some victim group’s proxy… And ignore for the moment the possibility of a more developed understanding of social problems than the one which claims that they are caused by exhaust from jet ‘planes…
What evidence is there that black lives matter to environmentalists?
Well, there’s conspicuous caring, of course. Virtue signalling, and the such like, though, is cheap.
Better evidence of green concern for people of colour can be found in the consequences of green words and deeds. Recent events give us a clue as the depth of this performance of green compassion.
Just yesterday, 350.org joyfully announced its part in the denial of a licence to the planned Lamu coal plant in Kenya. The protesters demanded renewable energy instead.
This move by the county government of Lamu comes a few days after the resignation of the Minister of Trade, Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources citing her disapproval of the coal plant project. Environmental campaigners and social justice activists from Lamu, campaigning under the umbrella of Save Lamu, applauded her move and sought to increase the pressure on the government leading to the cancellation of the project.
The fact that green energy barely works in the world’s richest countries, and leaves many unable to afford basic utilities doesn’t seem to have occurred to well-off campaigners in the west, who sing and dance at their victory over industrialisation where it is most needed.
On Friday, indigenous people’s rights campaign, Survival International…
… urged the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) to address the spread of brutal shoot on sight conservation tactics at its world congress, which started yesterday in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Survival has asked the IUCN’s Director Inger Andersen to table the motion: “We condemn extrajudicial killing and “shoot on sight” policies in the name of conservation.”
The fact that conservation environmentalism has taken so long to respond to the vile abuses of human rights commited in the name of conservation is no surprise. Environmentalism is ideologically anti-human. And it always has been.
The Guardian, true to its two-faces, sends out the vile John Vidal to seek handwringing copy from green voices to counter what some people have been saying to John Vidal for decades. Says Vidal…
What has happened in Botswana is happening all over the world, according to an increasingly vocal group of campaigners, academics and environmentalists. They claim that indigenous peoples are being appallingly treated and abused, all in the name of a conservation philosophy that carries a heavy human cost. In order to make room for wildlife, tourism and industry, governments are using conservation as a pretext to drive the world’s most endangered peoples away from the lands and animals they have lived with for generations.
Some of the voices cited by Vidal wrote a letter to the Guardian last year (they might as well have written to themselves), saying…
Tribal peoples have managed their lands sustainably for generations. Forcibly removing them usually results in environmental damage. Such removals are a violation of human rights. The cheapest and quickest way to conserve areas of high biodiversity is to respect tribal peoples’ rights. The world can no longer afford a conservation model that destroys tribal peoples: it damages human diversity as well as the environment.
But hold on. First it’s green ideology that has transparently got a racism problem, but which greens are the least able to get a perspective on. And even when they can agree amongst themselves — multi-millionaires, Guardian hacks, and global green NGO executives — that shooting black people looking for food is a bad thing (oh, well done, guys, here, have a f***ing medal and a Nobel Prize), it’s not like they even overcome the racism.
Seeing ‘tribal people’ in particular terms is no escape from racism. We take it for granted that ‘tribal people’ want to be tribal people. But in the process, we might be denying ‘tribal people’ the opportunity to stop being ‘tribal people’. What if ‘tribal people’ want roads, jobs and airports as much as the white and black and brown and green and pink people of Newham? And what if they want electricity, even if it is made from coal, rather than silicon and sunshine? What do the Green Great and Good know that people can’t work out for themselves?
Meanwhile, some good news, which puts all this in perspective. The World health Organisation has now declared that Sri Lanka is malaria free.
The obvious point to make here is that the UN WHO were, not long ago, claiming that malaria was on the rise in the developing world, pushed by climate change. What happened to that story?
The UN make want to take some credit for the progress towards abolishing malaria. But another factor might be the ~6% of almost continuous growth the country has enjoyed in recent decades. Industrialisation, in other words, has slashed the rates of poverty, and thus exposure and vulnerability to disease has diminished. One third of Sir Lanka’s power is generated from ‘renewable energy’ — but it comes from hydropower, which environmentalists campaign against. The other two thirds some from burning fuel oil, and, since 2011, coal-fired power stations. Just 2.5% of power came from ‘renewables’ in 2014.
Kenya, meanwhile, produces what seems like a whopping 27% of its electricity from geothermal sources, and a further 37% from hydropower. Remarkable, that is, until we learn that this amounts to just 1.4 GW of capacity, in a country with a population of 44 million.
No wonder those greens like ‘tribal’ society, and ‘traditional lifestyles’, and are at last reflecting on the rights and wrongs of murdering people from ‘sustainable’ ‘tribal society’. When you’ve got mosquitos killing babies, you don’t need to burn fossil fuels in expensive helicopters. You don’t even need guns.
Choice of technique is a political decision. As much as greens try to claim that renewable energy is a moral imperative, it is not at all clear that poor people either in developed or developing economies have much to gain from intermittent and expensive energy, either in the immediate or long term moral calculus.
It is also not clear that decisions about choice of technique have not been swayed by pressure from green campaigning organisations, which routinely put ‘the climate’ before the needs of people. If black lives matter then coal matters. When the final history of environmentalism is written, the influence of green NGOs over the global poor will be read as no less a disgusting intervention than shooting people from fossil-fuel powered helicopters.