The head of research at a prominent UK climate facility believes that those of us who use refrigerators and drive cars will need to be coerced into altering our lifestyles.

All the mixed messaging out there regarding global warming sure is confusing. We’re frequently told that there are “simple, low-cost solution[s]” and “easy ways” to curtail our energy consumption. The implication is that anyone who won’t go to such trivial effort to save the planet must be both irrational and irretrievably selfish.

But don’t be fooled. The UK ‘s Guardian newspaper is currently highlighting the views of prominent climate activists. These paint a starkly different picture of the kind of sacrifices we’re all expected to make – and provide a glimpse of the future these activists have in store for us. It’s a future few of us would consider tolerable.

Kevin Anderson (whom I’ve previously described as the ‘ration card man’) assures us that “the future does not have to be.bleak” while at the same time declaring that we “desperately need” “major changes in our lifestyle.” The high carbon-dioxide emitting turkeys, he says, “are going to have to vote for a low-carbon Christmas.”

Except that this gent’s commitment to the democratic process – in which we all actually get to vote and to determine our own fates – is less than inspiring. High emitters, he says will need to be coerced into getting with the program. I am not making this up. Here are his very words:

the poor, even as they strive to buy fridges and drive cars, are not to blame. It is those already leading high-carbon lifestyles that need to instigate or be coerced into a radical transition to a low carbon future. This is the real challenge.[backup link]

So what form will that coercion take? This is important. Is he talking about fines? Imprisonment? Re-education camps? What ethical and legal boundaries is this tyrant-wannabee not prepared to cross?

By no stretch of the imagination is Anderson a marginalized voice whose anti-social, anti-democratic ravings don’t matter. This man is the head of climate research at the UK’s Tyndall Centre. He is a professor at Manchester University. If his remarks about coercing others have sparked an outcry from appalled colleagues at either institution I’ve yet to hear about it.

But let us give him his due. He does appear to be leading by example:

I haven’t flown for almost eight years – and that will have to continue. I have halved the distance I drive each year and have significantly changed how I drive. I’ve done without a fridge for 12 years, but recently relented and joined the very small proportion of the world’s population that has a fridge – this I may have to reverse! I’ve cut back on washing and showering – but only to levels that were the norm just a few years back. All this is a start but it is not enough.

Please notice that final line. Anderson hasn’t boarded a plane in eight years. He has gone without a refrigerator for 12. He bathes less frequently. The distance he drives diminishes continually. And still, he tells us, these measures are merely the beginning.

All of these restrictions, all of these daily privations, are – in his words – “not enough.”

Welcome to your future as envisioned by climate activists. More to the point, welcome to the future these people want your children and grandchildren to endure. And all in the name of preventing a highly speculative, decades-into-the-future, by-no-means-assured climate catastrophe.


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