Decrying ‘climate Stalinism’

Joel Kotkin writes for City Journal about climate alarmists’ disturbing tactics.

The Left’s fixation on climate change is cloaked in scientism, deploying computer models to create the illusion of certainty. Ever more convinced of their role as planetary saviors, radical greens are increasingly intolerant of dissent or any questioning of their policy agenda. They embrace a sort of “soft Stalinism,” driven by a determination to remake society, whether people want it or not—and their draconian views are penetrating the mainstream. “Democracy,” a writer for Foreign Policy suggests, constitutes “the planet’s biggest enemy.”

Today’s working and middle classes are skeptical about policies that undermine their livelihoods in the promise of distant policy goals. Even now, after a decade-long barrage of fear-mongering, a majority of Americans, Australians, and even Europeans doubt that climate change will affect their lives substantially. A recent UN survey of 10 million people found that climate change ranked 16th in concerns; most people in the developing world, notes environmental economist Bjorn Lonborg, “care about their kids not dying from easily curable diseases, getting a decent education, not starving to death.”

Like other people in high-income countries, most Americans want to improve the environment and many, if not most, are concerned about the potential impact of climate change. But they still rank climate as only their 11th leading concern, behind not just health care and the economy but also immigration, guns, women’s rights, the Supreme Court, taxes, income, and trade. A recent Harris-Harvard poll found that three-fifths of Americans reject the portfolio of Green New Deal policies, including a third of Democrats and half of people under 25.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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