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Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself - Friedrich Hegel
There are two types of movements that I fear above all others, those with utopian visions and those with dystopian ones. While I have made the case that socialists fall into the former camp, it is clear that climate activists are firmly in the latter group. The problem with these two visions is that they both provide a built-in reason to excuse extreme behavior and encourage adherents to vilify those who disagree with them or who are insufficiently militant in their behaviors. I imagine that most of us have some concern regarding humanities impact on the environment whether it be pollution, the ozone layer, or changing weather patterns, however those of you not already subscribing to doomsday climate predictions likely view climate activists as either overly enthusiastic or at worst, annoying. While these people argue that most of us have blinders on concerning the dangers of climate change, I do not believe that it is the dangers of climate change that we are underestimating, but rather the dangers of activists themselves. Anyone who is paying attention and understands what these people see as the ultimate stakes must conclude that it is only a matter of time before climate activists turn to violence.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am in no way grouping together everyone who is concerned about climate. Most people who are concerned with climate change likely take some action to demonstrate their concern whether it be by recycling, taking public transport or (thinking about) getting an electric car, and likely believe that the government and businesses should do more. My concern is with activists and what they will do when their efforts to achieve their most extreme demands fail. At some point even these people will realize that annoying people by blocking traffic and vandalizing priceless works of art is not causing people to flock to their cause. What then? With the United Nations issuing a report called a “code red for humanity,” activists replacing the term “climate change” with “climate catastrophe,” and activist organizations adopting names like “Extinction Rebellion” and “the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement”, it is inconceivable that these people will simply give up, get a job, and raise a family. Like all “good” people with utopian dreams or dystopian nightmares, there will come a time when the most “dedicated” of the activists will conclude that violence is the only solution. In fact, if you search the headlines, you will see that it has already started. Recently, articles in Le Monde, Opendemocracy, and The Guardian have highlighted actions by activists to deflate the tires of SUVs, break windows of organizations linked to fossil fuels, destroy pipelines and gas station pumps, and most concerning, derailing trains. At the same time, major news media organizations appear to be legitimizing the use of violence; Al Jazeera posed the question “Will embracing climate sabotage help save the planet?” and The Nation printed a piece in which two climate activists, one of whom wrote a book “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” argued the pros and cons of sabotaging fossil fuel infrastructure. At present the violence, and arguments for and against it, are restricted to damaging property. Can there be any doubt that in the next step will be violence against individuals? If one believes that the world will end if climate change isn’t halted, doesn’t it make sense to use violence against a small number of “evil” people? If voluntary human extinction isn’t winning the required number of adherents, then perhaps human extinction should be a little less voluntary.
It is past time that society stopped looking at and treating climate activists who break the law as well intentioned but otherwise harmless. These people are not a nuisance or misguided. Their hearts are not in the right place. While they belong to a secular movement, climate activists are no different than religious fanatics. Reason will not sway them as they are adherents to an undeniable truth which, will in due time, justify any and all actions. These people are a threat to civilized society. It’s time to start treating them as such by making their punishment fit their crimes.