Kit Knightly at Off-Guardian asks: “Is a Climate Lockdown on the Horizon?” The question is provoked by a “report” by Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics at University College, London entitled “Avoiding a Climate Lockdown.”  As Knightly astutely observes:

The text of the report itself is actually quite craftily constructed. It doesn’t outright argue for climate lockdowns, but instead discusses ways “we” can prevent them. This cleverly creates a veneer of arguing against them, whilst actually pushing the a priori assumptions that any so-called “climate lockdowns” would a) be necessary and b) be effective. Neither of which has ever been established. 

Knightly quotes the report:

As COVID-19 spread […] governments introduced lockdowns in order to prevent a public-health emergency from spinning out of control. In the near future, the world may need to resort to lockdowns again – this time to tackle a climate emergency […] To avoid such a scenario, we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently […] Under a “climate lockdown,” governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat, and impose extreme energy-saving measures, while fossil-fuel companies would have to stop drilling.

and comments:

As for forcing fossil fuel companies to stop drilling, that is drenched in the sort of ignorance of practicality that only exists in the academic world. Supposing we can switch to entirely rely on renewables for energy, we still wouldn’t be able to stop drilling for fossil fuels. Oil isn’t just used as fuel, it’s also needed to lubricate engines and manufacture chemicals and plastics. Plastics used in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels, for example. Coal isn’t just needed for power stations, but also to make steel. Steel which is vital to pretty much everything humans do in the modern world.

It reminds me of a Victoria Wood sketch from the 1980s, where an upper-middle class woman remarks, upon meeting a coal miner, I suppose we don’t really need coal, now we’ve got electricity.”

Do read Knightly’s excellent article, plus the 300+ comments (all from people who should be Cliscep readers, or Notalotofpeopleknowthat readers, or Bishop Hill readers, but whose names were unfamiliar to me. We should all get out of our silos a bit more.)

So who is professor Mazzucato and what is she saying? No difficulty finding out about her. She has a wikipaedia article and a website which links to her articles at the Guardian, New York Times, New Republic, Time, etc. Climate Depot usefully reproduces her Time article here, in which she predicted in 2020 “how we fixed the global economy by 2023.”

A new concept of a Healthy Green Deal emerged, in which climate targets and well-being targets were seen as complementary and required both supply- and demand-side policies. The concept of “social infrastructure” became as important as physical infrastructure. For the energy transition, this meant focusing on a future of mobility strategy and creating an ambitious platform for public transportation, cycling paths, pedestrian pathways and new ways to stimulate healthy living. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti successfully turned one lane of the 405 freeway into a bicycle lane and broke ground in late 2022 on a zero-carbon underground metro system, free at the point of use.

That’s it. Cycle paths and a free metro system in LA by 2023 and the global economy will be up and running – at about ten miles an hour if your lungs are in good shape. Meanwhile, China is investing trillions in a high speed rail network across three continents. Professor Mazzucato lists her influences as Keynes and Schumpeter. Maybe she should read something written more recently than the 1930s…

Her website also lists upcoming talks. For the month of June she’s billed at the Trento Festival Economia, the Brasilia Desirable Tomorrows, the Amundi World Investment Forum, the Institute of Development Studies, the Cambridge Union (in conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky – unfortunately rescheduled – should be fun) the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum, and the Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

She is Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London. She was a member of the UK Labour Party’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2015 to 2016, and has also served on South Africa’s Presidential Economic Council, helped set up and design a new Scottish National Investment Bank, and has just been appointed to chair the World Health Organisation’s Council on the Economics of Health for All.

Don’t think that she’s been overlooked in Europe:

In 2018, European Commissioner Carlos Moedas announced an ambitious €100bn research and innovation programme for the next EU budgets – with the work of Professor Mariana Mazzucato and her ‘mission-oriented’ framework a core part of the programme. Known as ‘Horizon Europe’, the proposal aims to keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation, building on the success of the previous programme, Horizon 2020. 

Having your ideas at the core of a €100 billion European Union programme is quite a lift to the ego, I should think. By coincidence that’s the sum that the developed world has failed to deliver to the developing nations to help them face up to climate change. For Europe has other matters on its Horizon at the moment, like – er – Europe.

So what does Mazzucato have to say about climate change? In the “Avoiding Lockdown” paper highlighted by Knightly, published in October 2020 by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (who else?) she says:

In the near future, the world may need to resort to lockdowns again – this time to tackle a climate emergency. Shifting Arctic ice, raging wildfires in western US states and elsewhere, and methane leaks in the North Sea are all warning signs that we are approaching a tipping point on climate change, when protecting the future of civilization will require dramatic interventions. 

She doesn’t provide any reference to back up this extraordinary claim, though elsewhere in the report she links generously. For example, she backs up her next claim, that:

Many think of the climate crisis as distinct from the health and economic crises caused by the pandemic. But the three crises – and their solutions – are interconnected

with links to a March 2020 article titled “Capitalism’s Triple Crisis” by Mariana Mazzucato, and to a June 2020 UCL briefing paper “A Green Economic Renewal from the Covid-19 Crisis” also by Mariana Mazzucato

in which she says: 

…the climate emergency rages on. 

and:

Global heating entails large systemic risks, including natural catastrophes, forced climate migration and biodiversity disruptions, that must be mitigated to avoid social and economic chaos. 

and:

…well, that’s about all Mariana has to say about climate. In the next sentence she’s off on another tack:

COVID-19 is itself a consequence of environmental degradation: one recent study dubbed it “the disease of the Anthropocene.” 

Now that claim is referenced – to this article from the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, which after a quick overview of AIDS, SARS, Ebola and MERS, claims that:

Human activity is increasingly disruptively transforming the earth’s natural habitats and ecosystems by intensely altering the patterns and mechanisms of interaction between species and facilitating the transmission of infectious diseases across species and to humans. A study published in 2014 estimated that by 2050, 25 million kilometers of new roads would be built and that 9 out of 10 would occur in developing countries, including many regions that maintain exceptional biodiversity and vital ecosystem services.

What’s the biggest threat to public health, according to Mazzucato’s source? You guessed right. Roads. Particularly roads in poor countries. Yuck. Nasty, tarmacky things. Who needs roads when you’ve got airports to fly in and out of? 

The Elsevier article continues with this unreferenced claim:

In the case of COVID-19, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that the virus causing the outbreak of COVID 19 in Wuhan came from wild animals, whose meat was sold at the Hankou’s market in Wuhan, in which about 120 animals of 75 different species were marketed, some of them alive, such as puppies of wolves, salamanders, crocodiles, scorpions, rats, squirrels, foxes, civets and turtles. The first group of patients with SARS-CoV 2 in Wuhan were mostly traders in that market.

I didn’t know that. It should surely make identifying the guilty crossover species a doddle. Just ask the first patients: “What’s your best selling line? Wolf puppyburgers, salamander kebab, or civet de civet?”

But the clincher for establishing that “COVID-19 is a paradigmatic example of an Anthropocene disease” is this:

John Vidal, in a recent article, has cogently pointed out the link between COVID-19 and planetary health (Vidal, 2020)

Yes, that’s John Vidal, Guardian Environment Editor, the man who can write an eyewitness account of climate change in East Africa from the aircraft window on a flight to Pretoria. When an economist needs scientific backup for evidence that entirely unrelated crises are related, in order to justify plans to spend billions or trillions of Euros on a Healthy Green New Deal and lockdown anyone and anything standing in her way, she naturally turns to a scientific paper which gets its ideas from a Guardian journalist, who had this particular brainwave on a visit to the great Minkebe forest in northern Gabon – in 2004 – and wrote it up in Scientific American in April 2020. 

Mayibout 2 is not a healthy place. The 150 or so people who live in the village […] in northern Gabon, are used to occasional bouts of diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever and sleeping sickness. Mostly they shrug them off. But in January 1996, Ebola, a deadly virus then barely known to humans, unexpectedly spilled out of the forest in a wave of small epidemics. The disease killed 21 of 37 villagers who were reported to have been infected, including a number who had carried, skinned, chopped or eaten a chimpanzee from the nearby forest. 

Only a decade or two ago it was widely thought that tropical forests and intact natural environments teeming with exotic wildlife threatened humans by harboring the viruses and pathogens that lead to new diseases in humans like Ebola, HIV and dengue. But a number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases like COVID-19, the viral disease that emerged in China in December 2019, to arise—with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. In fact, a new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections among the well-being of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems. 

Is it possible, then, that it was human activity, such as road building, mining, hunting and logging, that triggered the Ebola epidemics in Mayibout 2 and elsewhere in the 1990s and that is unleashing new terrors today? 

So, while medical science, common sense, consumer preferences, and the advice of millions of overworked underfunded African health workers all say: “If you don’t want to catch Ebola, lay off the half cooked chimpanzee,” the Guardian, Scientific American and the London University professor who gives economic advice to the Labour Party and helped create a Scottish development bank say: “Don’t mine, log, and build roads in poor countries rich in biodiversity.”

Give them roads, and the next thing you know there’ll be a Kentucky Fried Chimp in every layby.

19 Comments

  1. She’s the author of numerous books and studies that show how in various sectors, including biotech, pharmaceuticals and clean technology, the high-risk investments are being made by the state before the private sector gets involved. In a chapter examining the iPhone, she outlines how the technologies that make it ‘smart’ – the internet, GPS, its touchscreen display and the voice-activated Siri – were all government-funded.

    She doesn’t care much for accuracy. She is also strangely unaware of how often governments get things wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man in a Barrel

    She is also strangely unaware of how often governments get things wrong.

    I suppose if you point out that governments sometimes get things wrong you don’t get to be a core part of a 100 billion euro European Union project.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. These things all link up, don’t they?

    The covid crisis hit climate worriers for six, because the public response to a real and present danger was immediate, and the costs were obvious. The “climate crisis” was nowhere to be seen, and certainly wasn’t at the top of most people’s things to worry about. Then it seems to have dawned that if the “climate crisis” could somehow be linked to covid, they’d be on to a winner. If they can link “climate crisis” to environmental destruction (which is also obvious) as well as to covid, then maybe that’s “job done”. It’s certainly not in the interest of climate worriers for it to be established that the disease escaped from a lab in Wuhan.

    And this is where we came in, with JIT’s excellent article, Message Found on a Derelict Planet.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. ‘climate lockdown’

    It’s such a naked and wholesale and wildly inapt appropriation of an utterly separate domain’s emergency response framework for a completely different issue (which even within-domain is controversial), that you almost have to admire the sheer unadulterated fantasy of this neat little meme. Cultural untruths can never be big enough; it seems there’s always a way to make them even bigger.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Re climate lockdowns, our acquiescence/ feeble opposition to WuFlu lockdowns has certainly pushed the envelope of what is potentially possible. Deep green forces will be watching with bright eyes, wondering how far the precedent set can get them.

    My fond hope is that a genuine climate lockdown would last about 12 hours.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. And here’s another example of a feeble attempt to link the idea of a pandemic (such as covid) with “climate crisis” in the minds of the public:

    “‘The next pandemic’: drought is a hidden global crisis, UN says
    Countries urged to take urgent action on managing water and land and tackling the climate emergency”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/17/the-next-pandemic-drought-is-a-hidden-global-crisis-un-says

    We are truly in an Alice Through the Looking Glass World now. Words don’t mean what they used to mean any more.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Why will we need roads when there’s nowhere we will be allowed to go? Air flight will be restricted likewise to the elites travelling to global politicking summits and such.

    ” Say, we allow you to go places on your bike (in your high-security, camera-on-every-corner, local-community) dön’t we?”

    Like

  8. BETH
    I think we’ll still have roads, because they need them to get to the airport. Mariana’s worry seems to be the 90% of roads predicted to be built in the developing world, with its pristine biodiversity, unspoilt holiday locations etc. Not so much NIMBY as NITBY – not in their backyard, the idea being, I think, that Africans won’t need to travel much, because they’ll all be too busy growing locally produced organic crops and preserving their indigenous wisdom round the electric campfire powered by the village wind turbine.

    Like

  9. ANDY WEST

    Cultural untruths can never be big enough

    On another thread you said that cultural memes have to be false, and the falser the better for their survival. Could you give some examples, because it does sound paradoxical. Take Christianity. Whatever you think of singing hymns in school assembly, it sounds more sensible than, say, sitting on a pillar in the Sinai desert for thirty years, which was an alternative road to salvation which was popular at one time. A case of the not so bad driving out the not so good?

    Like

  10. .’..preserving their indigenous wisdom round the electric campfire powered by the village wind turbine.’
    Lol … Until the wind stops blowing or blows too hard…

    Like

  11. “On another thread you said that cultural memes have to be false, and the falser the better for their survival. Could you give some examples, because it does sound paradoxical. Take Christianity. Whatever you think of singing hymns in school assembly, it sounds more sensible than, say, sitting on a pillar in the Sinai desert for thirty years, which was an alternative road to salvation which was popular at one time. A case of the not so bad driving out the not so good?”

    I said indeed that core cultural narratives *have* to be false, and the falser the better within domain. I did not say that this falsity has to result in a worse human condition than the last culture, or a neighbouring culture; this may or may not be the case. In fact, the reason that we are so locked into cultural behaviour is because those behaviours were a massive (group) net *advantage* to survival, for eons, although I guess no-one knows whether this is still the case or not in modern times.

    The reason they have to be as distanced from reality as possible (aka false for whatever realities exist in the domain they address), is that this makes them far, far harder to question. It could eventually lead to conscious reasoning unravelling the brain bypass via which cultural belief avoids any reasoning at all. A blank wall of complete untruth is way harder for any logic to find a purchase upon. I’m not a theologian, but I believe a complete falsity of Christianity is that we are all born with original sin. The minute you start making any logical concessions to this, it could lead to a situation where the whole narrative comes tumbling down. Fascists believed that we’re all doomed unless racial purity was maintained. Utterly false. Communists believed that we we’re all doomed unless Capitalism was brought down. Utterly false. Catastrophic climate-change believers think that were all doomed unless NearNetZero terminates emissions. Utterly false. These narratives are emergent, they are not driven by a sentient or agential entity, but the narratives that make no concessions whatsoever to reality are the ones that tend to emerge preferentially via emotive selection, which then maintains the group membership in the face of all opposition, which in turn provides all the group advantages. This is why any concessions to climate catastrophe, for instance, are so very very hard to drive via reason in the opposite direction.

    Whether the resulting cultures that coalesce around these utterly false core narratives are better or worse for humanity, is a completely different question. And indeed some have been both, starting off aggressive and turning benign, or indeed going the other way. I don’t think that we can say the religion of Ancient Greece in the full flowering of its classical period, was necessarily worse than religions still around today at their nastiest moments. As when Catholicism exterminated a million Cathars during the thirteenth century, for instance. The sub-narratives that collect around the core untruth, which buffer it from reality and ‘translate’ or ‘gear down’ to realistic liveable rules (usually) are extremely flexible, constantly evolve, and have the capacity to veer to the very benign or the absolutely terrible, or even both at once. There are various points in history when Christianity as a body would barely recognize itself from past incarnations, for instance. In principle, developing devices that deploy reason at scale, such as democracy, the law, and science, should help constrain cultural operation and shepherd it more to the benign as time passes. Plus, more co-operative narratives (e.g. monotheism) that help grow group sizes should in theory also emerge.

    But co-operation is not always the nice sort. And as the 1930s for instance also showed, there is not an inevitable direction that each new big culture will be better than the last big culture. And while in principle a core narrative that includes ‘save the planet’ or ‘Jesus died for us’ will, one would think, produce a more benign culture than ‘Morgoth devours all’, in practice the blatant and utter untruth of the core narrative doesn’t really have to be very much connected to the developing culture’s achievements. Every horrible religious pogrom in the last two millennia is tied to a ‘benign’ religion. And in the abstract ‘Jesus died to save us’ is not more true or less true than ‘Morgoth devours all’. They are both complete and utter falsities in every respect. It is easier to see the distancing of the narrative from reality within the secular religions, because they actually have a visible domain, say race or class or climate. In the ‘traditional’ religions this is more difficult to see because they typically claim that their domain is infinite anyhow. But bear in mind that the core narrative is *only* a badge of membership, nothing more.

    Anyhow, in a two steps forward one step back sort of way, that cultures might be getting more benign (it would be nice to know more about the 100,000 religions we’ve reputedly experienced), does not make their core narratives more true in the least; they still have to be as untrue as possible in order for a proper cultural mode to be invoked. Inevitable, imminent global climate catastrophe is just as untrue as Original Sin, or Capitalism will be the death of us all, or Racial dilution will make us all beasts, or Morgoth devours all, or indeed the Ancient Greek belief that pre-ordained fate existed and could not be countered even by their Gods.

    Like

  12. ANDY Thanks. That’s what I was looking for.

    “I did not say that this falsity has to result in a worse human condition than the last culture, or a neighbouring culture.”

    I didn’t think you did. My point about School Assembly v. St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar was that actual behaviour within a culture (as opposed to supposed belief) seems to regress towards a norm of rationality. Faced with the “reality” of Original Sin, having a good singsong seems a more satisfactory reaction than beating yourself up about it. Likewise, anecdotal evidence suggests that people are happy to recycle and compost, but not attracted to Extinction Rebellion’s tactics of gluing themselves to tube trains. While the local council’s belief that providing different coloured
    bins will bring the temperature down may be just as daft as anything uttered by XR, the behaviour resulting from the belief is less radically disruptive to normal life.

    The relative appeals of apparently sensible ideas like sorting waste, and utterly barmy ones like banning petrol engines, both aimed at “saving the the planet” raises very interesting questions. Sensible sceptics like the GWPF and Paul Homewood are betting on people making rational decisions based on self-interest. Your “the madder the better” theory seems to suggest that they will be disappointed.

    “I believe a complete falsity of Christianity is that we are all born with original sin.”

    That seems an odd choice on your part. Turning water into wine or raising the dead seem easier targets for scepticism. I’m not even sure who invented the concept of original sin, but couldn’t it be an insightful first stab at identifying something true about the human psyche?

    And doesn’t your evolutionary culture theory need to apply to a much wider group of beliefs, or risk reducing all beliefs to religions?

    ”Fascists believed that we’re all doomed unless racial purity was maintained. Utterly false. Communists believed that we we’re all doomed unless Capitalism was brought down. Utterly false.”

    Fascists didn’t believe that. Mussolini doesn’t seem to have had any particular thing about race. He didn’t invade Ethiopia and Libya because of race, but because he wanted an empire to exploit like the Brits and the French. Hitler’s personal racial obsession was a handy campaigning tactic and vote winner, but was it really the meme that won him the Chancellorship and the conquest of Europe? For every intellectual (as opposed to unemployed voter) attracted by his obsession, a hundred were repelled, when they could have supported a more rational, less false, meme-based movement of German regeneration, however undemocratic.

    Again and again I come back to the fact that your theory is attractive, because it aims to explain so much. But precisely because of its ambition, it has at some point to deal with detailed analysis of actual cases.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Take China. Their recent economic policy appears very similar to a replay of Lenin’s NEP. You can’t achieve a communist society until the classes have achieved some kind of equality. So state socialism morphs into creating jobs and emulating early capitalism. But it took 200 years for peasants in Durham to work out that the EU was not their friend. And how the Guardian howls about the disdain for their mates in Brussels

    Like

  14. MAN IN A BARREL

    it took 200 years for peasants in Durham to work out that the EU was not their friend.

    What, from 1815 to 2015?

    Actually, anti-Brexit mania would be a good test of Andy’s theory. As Brexit approached, the Guardian seemed to drop all the complicated stuff about ever closer union in the face of a world of competing superpowers bla bla and retreat to “The message on the bus was a lie.” To believe this, you have to pretend not to understand the meaning of words like “give” and “get back,” which is a good example of what Andy is talking about. “We’re giving x pounds a week to Brussels” is obviously true, the way, the way “the world is warming and there’s no catastrophe” is obviously true.

    On China and the NEP, imagine what Lenin would have thought of this graph, tweeted by Steve Mcintyre this morning

    Liked by 3 people

  15. “My point about School Assembly v. St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar was that actual behaviour within a culture (as opposed to supposed belief) seems to regress towards a norm of rationality.”

    Absolutely. And all my above is completely consistent with same. Although I’d add that this can move in *both* directions, even if in a two steps forward one step back manner, the average arrow is towards the rational (I don’t believe this is formally proven though). The Cultures are vast onions, where only a few believe the utterly untrue core narratives completely and avidly, but they have leverage over the next layer out, who have leverage over the next layer out, and so until a billion people or more are theoretical members and indeed *do* still have some amount of loyalty that will bias their rational thinking, but nevertheless most will behave rationally most of the time. And in many believers too, there’s a kind of schizophrenia; they can both believe the untrue narrative AND yet behave rationally as though it’s not literally true (there’s quite a lot of work on this for the traditional religions). Special brain behaviour has evolved to do this. Hence the culture accomplishes group cohesion via unhinged narrative, nevertheless is not unhinged in action most of the time (sometimes, it is). Without the latter decode into some kind existence that acknowledges reality, cultures would never provide the huge advantages that they have done over eons. A group advantage is no good if the group is bent upon suicide. However, without the completely untrue narratives at their head, there would be no cohesive group to start with (for sure in the past, and maybe even now), because a) cultural behaviour started early, while we were still animals, and b) even as rationality grew it wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to hold such agglomerations together in the face of both the massive unknown and a zillion opinions. Bear in mind too that the narratives and our behaviours have *co*evolved to work together for immense lengths of time.

    “Again and again I come back to the fact that your theory is attractive, because it aims to explain so much. But precisely because of its ambition, it has at some point to deal with detailed analysis of actual cases.”

    But I don’t seek to explain ‘everything’, and also it’s easy to over-extrapolate statements unless the full context is known. [That may be my issue in part, but providing reams of context for every short blog comment I make is only a way to make sure they’re never read]. For instance that cultural narratives must be as untrue as possible to accomplish purpose, is entirely consistent with largely rational behaviour for most of the time from the culture (and hence its adherents). And a net *benefit* to the human condition too (or the behaviours wouldn’t have evolved and be so strongly embedded in us). And, indeed consistent too with the fact that many sub-narratives surrounding or ‘buffering’ core untruths from reality, contain much that is reasonable. All cultures maintain a ‘population’ of narrative forms, with the blatantly untrue at head and an (evolving) raft of surrounding variants that pull in volume belief by virtue of being far less extreme, yet nevertheless owe to the head which aligns people to it like a magnet will align iron filings. And I think per above, it seems you have assumed that these things are not the case. But also, all this means that episodes or phases (in time or geography or social subset) of mass irrationality driven by the core narrative, are likely from time to time, especially for a new culture or one undergoing a refit, as it were. In yet another neat insight, John R expressed this very well indeed with his point on another post about analogue function evolved to purpose (but not rational) being right and efficient most of the time, yet subject to gross failure on occasion exactly because it isn’t ultimately based upon rationality. It is beyond the scope of entire disciplines working for a generation, never mind just me, to map all this in detail onto a raft of historic cultures. However, I do indeed aim to explain one case in great detail, and collect same in a single work, and indeed include the social measurement that demonstrates the principles. The case of catastrophic climate-change culture, of course; watch this space…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. ANDY

    All cultures maintain a ‘population’ of narrative forms, with the blatantly untrue at head and an (evolving) raft of surrounding variants that pull in volume belief by virtue of being far less extreme, yet nevertheless owe to the head which aligns people to it like a magnet will align iron filings. And I think per above, it seems you have assumed that these things are not the case.

    Not at all. I don’t assume, but I question, because, for all its interest, your theory doesn’t answer the big question. It seems to apply to fads and world shattering events alike, so how can we tell whether we’re wasting our time trying to beat back the tide, or struggling sensibly to convince rational people to be sensible? What seemed to me like an odd quirk of Guardian readers fifteen years ago which would fade away like the fashion for flared trousers has now taken over the planet. And yet it doesn’t seem to have mutated – it’s the same old Old Moore’s Almanack – now preached by Greta instead of by Sir Paul Nurse. And the Greens are still scoring 3% in elections.

    Anyway, the idea that you’re working on a book is great news.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. “I don’t assume, but I question…”

    Questioning is fantastic, and most welcome, but nevertheless often prompted by assumptions that it is not wrong to check-out about in return. Who doesn’t have assumptions?

    “It seems to apply to fads and world shattering events alike…”

    No. It applies to fads and world-shattering events very differently.

    “What seemed to me like an odd quirk of Guardian readers fifteen years ago which would fade away like the fashion for flared trousers has now taken over the planet…”

    Indeed, and if you have an explanation for this that is better than the cultural proposition, go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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