Big Green

Who gets angry about national debt now that covid-19 has started presenting the government with invoices? The Umbrella Men is partly about the great Bankers’ Crisis of 2008. I wrote about who’s paid the bills and how angry it made me in the Big Issue

Well, now it’s financial crisis, financial scheissis.  

But The Umbrella Men is not suddenly irrelevant.  Luckily, its other big theme – environmentalism – still has the potential to induce high emotion. People have told me that the environmental theme was too allegorical in the book. We see well-intentioned environmentalists in Oregon take local action, disregarding the bigger picture.  No-one wants a mine next door, but wind turbines and electric cars need rare earths. I was getting at an idea of unintended consequences. You cannot have ‘renewables’ without making a dreadful mess somewhere. An idea of hypocrisy. One of wilful blindness to inconvenient truths. Green is far from clean.

Michael Moore’s latest documentary – actually, it’s by a man called Jeff Gibbs – makes this same point, but is far from allegorical. It is shocking.  Planet of the Humans was released on Moore’s YouTube channel on Earth Day – and immediately was met by members of the Green Establishment with calls to remove it from YouTube, cancel the film. They succeeded. Such is their confidence in their case, rather than arguing against them they want to silence those who reveal ‘inconvenient truths’.  Luckily Moore and Gibbs are not so easily gagged and the film is still available here:  I urge you to watch it. 

Gibbs is an environmentalist. Green as they come.  His then is a powerful voice to narrate the story he does, highlighting unintended consequences in Solar, Wind and Biomass – the three mainstays of green ‘renewable’ energy.  The hypocrisy of the peddlers of electric vehicles, green power, green investment schemes. The crony capitalism. The environmental mass dupery enthusiastically promoted by useful idiots to the willing masses – at pop concerts, at demos, at those numerous, geographically far-flung gatherings ‘to save the planet’ attended by self-appointed well-remunerated not-for-profit experts. 

Some parts of the film would be funny, if so much taxpayers’ hard-earned money were not pledged to renewables, so many acres of land not already condemned to their unlovely use, so many trusting green hopes hitched to their mendacious promises.  With dead-pan delivery Gibbs comes across instance after instance: the environmental leader, the one with the features of one of the better-looking orcs, elaborately failing to remember the names of the major donors to his organisation – or his position on Biomass; the mains electricity cables supplying ‘renewables only’ concert stages or EV magafactories; the shills for this and that who clearly know the shifty truths they are weaselling. My favourite was the lady from GM trying to get away with saying the electricity to power her shiny new electric vehicle came from ‘the building’ before being dragged down a path which ended in her saying ‘coal’s not all bad though, is it? It has great BTUs!’

Planet of the Humans consists of a montage of images of human plundering and greed – but rather than the usual, here we see Vermont mountain tops being cleared of frosty trees to make way for a wind farm, the site an ugly scar in the mist.  There are solar arrays beyond repair, scatterings of refuse in the desert; rusty immobile wind turbines, the abandoned spoiled-kid toys of humans, but good humans who want to save the planet – until the novelty wears off, somebody else’s back yard has been sacrificed and the ugly truths have been forgotten or ignored. 

Humankind’s scramble to continue to consume at current levels and to enjoy additional economic growth leads to this desperate procession of Ponzi-scheme green solutions that make us consider every source of non-fossil fuel energy – and present as real options palm oil, coconut oil, sugar cane ethanol, seaweed, animal fat, alligator fat and elephant dung. In the unseemly struggle to maintain living standards, cows rendered for their fat can be rebranded as green energy. Outlandish?  What about the biomass generator mixing fragments of old tyre with its wood-chips to create ‘green’ bio-energy (and blackened sooty snow)? Add to that the frenetic clips Gibb presents in fast-forward to a frantic sound track showing men in fossil-powered machines hacking away at the Earth, blowing it up, smelting it to force it to render up its rare earths, its lithium and copper and a rapid series of other materials critical to the green revolution and only extracted from nature by violent means accompanied by emissions and succeeded by despoilment.

It’s all enough to make one despair.  

I suspect that I don’t agree with Messrs Moore and Gill on much else, but it was these unintended consequences of environmentalism that I was trying gently and by allegory to comment on in The Umbrella Men. With this sledgehammer of a film they have made the case far more forcefully. 

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