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Emmanuel Macron’s climate change virtue signaling

The French president is addicted to the ecstasy of gratuitous self-righteousness

August 25, 2019

3:15 PM

25 August 2019

3:15 PM

The French president Emmanuel Macron is as flighty as the movie character he most resembles, Harold Chasen, the eponymous sillyboy boy in Harold and Maude. As the world’s economies shudder under a variety of eco-angst initiatives, uncertainty over Brexit, the disruptions of Trump’s steely tariff initiatives, and the truculence of a surprised China, the blinking boy wonder jettisoned all the careful laid plans for the G7 meeting in Biarritz and announced without warning that the summit should focus on the ’emergency’, the ‘international crisis’ of (as one news report put it) ‘the record number of fires ravaging the Amazon jungle.’ ‘Our house is burning. Literally,’ Macron squeaked in a tweet Thursday, even as he elsewhere accused Bolsonaro of lying to him about Brazil’s effort to combat the great green phantom, ‘Climate Change.’

This took everyone, including Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, who was not present in Biarritz, by surprise. Bolsonaro swiftly fired back an angry, articulate response pointing out that 1) the Amazon was a treasured part of Brazil’s national identity (read: none of your business, Frenchie), 2) Brazil was devoting great resources, including military resources, to battling the fires, and 3) there were fires every year in the Amazon, fewer in wet years, more in drier years, which this was.

President Bolsonaro might have also pointed out that, far from there being a ‘record number’ of fires in the Amazon this year, there were actually far fewer this year than in many recent years as this chart shows.

fires

Being of a more charitable disposition than I am, President Bolsonaro also forbore to point out that the picture Macron featured in his horror story depicted not a fire in 2019 but was in fact snapped by the American photojournalist Loren McIntyre in 1989.

What is the moral of this little exercise in international virtue signaling? Perhaps the most important is that while climbing on to the climate change bandwagon may seem to offer free karma points to politicians in search of a little existential polish, it comes at the pronounced risk of making oneself look foolish when the lies, exaggerations, and profound ignorance of scientific fact is exposed.

These days politicians and media figures like the wretched Bill Maher believe that they can scoop up sympathy and admiration from their audiences by intoning baseless platitudes about ‘climate change,’ much as preachers of yore did so by railing against the evils of fornication or demon drink. It’s obnoxious partly because it’s hypocritical, as the example of Prince Harry and his touchy American wife shows — zipping around the world in private jets while decrying CO2 emissions and climate change — partly because it is such a cynical deployment of hectoring ignorance.

The outcry over ‘climate change’ (what we used to call ‘global warming,’ until the evidence that the globe was not, in fact, warming became incontrovertible) has very little to do with any genuine concern about the environment and everything to do with 1) the ecstasy of gratuitous self-righteousness that comes from repeating, mantra-like, clichés dear to one’s own tribe and 2) the weaponization of those sentiments in a program of anti-Western economic redistribution.  It’s a tactic that is repellent for its moralizing sanctimoniousness, and evil for its economic implications.

It is also part of a larger war against Western, and especially American, thriving, but that may be taken as given whenever the subject is the preening exhibitionism of liberal elites.


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