Paris on fire and Donald Trump – both orange on top and both brought to you by environmental extremism

Let’s take a step back from the minutiae of the daily grind, and a step above what’s trending. Here in a nutshell is where the world is today.

Record low interest rates have led to a debt binge. Industrialized nations are eyeball deep in debt. Some of the borrowing was to claw out of the financial crisis of 2008, but there are other reasons too.

One of the other major contributors to this wealthy-country debt load is the push, through subsidies and direct payments, to hasten the ascendancy of renewable energy. As a case in point, consider the massive subsidies offered to wealthy people, up to or over $10,000, to buy six figure Teslas. These amazing feel-good machines, of which I would dearly love one, allow the world’s wealthy to reduce their environmental footprint from 100 times the global per-capita average to 98.

We can see why this all happened, but unfortunately we know what the road to hell is paved with (good intentions, if you’re too tired to Google it). If all these governmental expenditures had put a material dent into global emissions, we could say the strategy worked. It has not.

Instead, damn their hides, we have seen global citizens rapidly accelerate their standard of living, most visibly through things like a conversion from regular cars to less efficient SUVs. We have seen air traffic continue to grow relentlessly. Let’s also be perfectly clear about the Whistler fossil fuels debacle: The entire experience is built on over-consumption and blatant disregard for an environmental footprint. Wealthy visitors sometimes take helicopters to the resort to avoid the traffic. Once they get there, many go heli-skiing. When they are done, they dine on exotic foods from around the globe. All of this for the wealthy-elite privilege of paying a fortune to glide down a hill. The whole Whistler 5-star experience is a poster child for every bad human environmental experience, and the only flagrant violation missing is the absence of a race track.

For sincere environmentalists, Whistler represents everything that is wrong with the world – extreme fossil fuel consumption by the wealthy with no redeeming value to society whatsoever. But that is what people choose, day in and day out, around the world. The more luxury they can afford, the more they buy. That is human nature.

As a result, finally and inevitably we are seeing a massive push back in industrialized countries against heavy handed environmental hectoring. Ontario and of course the US are the most visible pendulum-like reversals, with highly-visible, non-photogenic outspoken leaders, but other similar political movements are happening elsewhere too. Last but not by any stretch least is the wildly obvious situation in France, which is spreading to other countries.

It cannot be made any clearer that the confrontational style and tactics advanced and espoused by extreme environmentalism is derailing meaningful conversations about practical and realistic ways forward for environmental stewardship. The core group of environmental extremists will never be swayed by facts or piles of French rubble; they make a good living at this gig and it is hard to reverse solidified positions or show moderation after years of  guerrilla warfare. Like legendary Japanese soldiers on deserted islands that don’t know the war is over, the fight has moved on even if some don’t know it. This is no longer about Big Oil vs. the little guy, the fight is now about Any Oil vs. any citizen.

We need rational, sensible and realistic input into how to wean ourselves off a fuel that, at present, seven billion people rely on for survival. We know how people vote with their dollars; they buy new trucks and fly to Mexico. We need to find out how they vote when presented with non-inflammatory, non-accusative options.

So how about it, all you people whose minds are not bolted down? Ready to talk, or do we go all orange all over the world?

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Read more insightful analysis from Terry Etam here.  E-mail Terry.

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