These ponderings have increasingly convinced me that environmentalism is indeed becoming a sort of religion. The whole matter is certainly generating plenty of fervour. Don't get me wrong, I'm not berating people who believe that we need a much cleaner and better environment to live in as well as to pass on to future generations. This is an admirable aspiration and obviously, one we could all share.
I've already written an article in The Portugal News in which I've described myself as a reformed climate-change denier. However, thinking back, I don't think I ever really 'denied' the fact that the climate, for one reason or another, is changing quite dramatically. There's far too much evidence to realistically attempt to deny climate change. I don't wish to do the old ostrich routine and bury my head in the encroaching sands of desertification.
Sure, it can be argued that the climate is in a continual state of flux. I get it. But, of course, what must be considered is the sheer pace at which global temperatures are rising and the correlation between rising temperatures and human activity over the last century and a half. Sadly, climatic changes are plain for all to see, especially for those who happen to live in semi-arid regions.
So, in my own defence, and despite my somewhat self-deprecating confession of climate-change-denying; this was never entirely the case. With hindsight, I think I always realised that things weren't going particularly well for dear old Mother Earth. But, I think it was nevertheless fair for me to question the fervour with which the climate change narrative is being pursued. My observations might not be altogether comfortable reading for those already converted.
One of the real biggies for me is the way in which we are all being sold the idea about the untolled merits of green energy. We're all being swept along by a great "green" tsunami involving electric vehicles and the notion that we must all subscribe (in one way or another) to this brave new "green" world or otherwise face our species' untimely demise. Scary stuff.
I often wonder how many people have actually sat down and thought all of this through. I mean properly. I wonder how many have asked this quite simple but nevertheless rather an important question. That is, who precisely stands to gain the most from the great "green energy revolution?" Who will be making a whole stack of money peddling all the associated goods and services which we will all eventually need in order to comply with increasingly stringent (and indeed) mandated targets?
Good question, right? Let's be honest, it certainly won't be the very poorest in society who will stand to benefit, because at the end of the day, "green energy" and all the associated goods and services are going to cost quite a lot more in proportion to what the majority of people are actually earning. None of this will come cheap.
Green energy, heat pumps, solar panels, electric vehicles and so forth may be wonderfully fashionable in some circles right now. That's all well and good for those who might be able to afford it. But what about those who can't? What will be the recourse for them?
Sure, the cost of all these new-fangled ideas and entrapments will eventually come down (as do most new technological advancements). But in the short to medium term, the least well-off will surely find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet when facing the much higher cost of green lifestyles.
Of course, I can see that fossil fuels are finite by their very nature and there is clearly an overwhelming need for new technologies to emerge that will put us all in a much better place to embrace a far more sustainable future. Choking the world with noxious gasses and fumes is obviously not the way forward. But if we're to preserve our cherished Western civilisation in its current guise, cutting off all tried and trusted technologies of the past won't be feasible unless (or until) credible alternatives come online.
I often think of all the fossil fuels that are still being used to produce electricity to charge EV's. I'm not against EV's, especially in the heart of big towns and cities. In that environment, they should ideally be the only choice these days. After all, we all need to breathe clean air.
But I find it a little far-fetched when EV's are being hailed as the big "green" Saviours of the planet when in actual fact - they're not really anything close. Far from it. No cars that are mass-produced on a gargantuan scale can (almost by definition) be "green".
It's kind of irritating when "they" (whoever "they" are) blatantly lead us up the garden path with outrageous claims that we should all blithely accept. The cynic in me senses that somebody, somewhere has seen the 'green' narrative as a fabulous opportunity to sell some new-fangled but often deeply flawed technologies, not solely in the name of the green agenda but ultimately in the name of profit.
Just like religions once frightened potentially non-conformist people half to death with the spectre of fire and brimstone, so the idea of environmental Armageddon rallies the "true believers" into some sort of inane submission. "Pay up and your EV's shall be your Saviour - or else".
Yes, of course, there's pollution. Yes, CO2 levels are soaring (just as speedily as rainforests are being chopped down in order to clear more and more land to grow crops and to rear livestock). But the fact remains, unless the human population begins to dwindle we will see more deforestation, more pollution, more habitat loss, more extinction events and even more carbon emissions.
Mine may not be the popular view, nor will it be the mainstream view but applying logical thought might just confirm these quite simple and glaringly obvious facts.
I don't think anyone denies climate change but the underlying cause is, for some strange reason, being skirted around. And that cause is the growing human population that's becoming increasingly unsustainable.
So, this Douglas Hughes fellow knows better than the scientists, I hear you say. Well, no, I don't. I really hope I'm not coming over as being that outrageously arrogant. But, the truth is, no one bankrolls common sense whereas science needs funding - and lots of it. This must surely have the potential to turn some scientists into marionettes? What they do or what they say might well depend on who's pulling the strings or who's actually out there dangling the proverbial carrot.
These days, fire and brimstone are manifestly the spectre of rising global temperatures. The thought of it can be uncomfortable, overwhelming and paralysing. This phenomenon is known as climate anxiety or eco-anxiety; often defined as a chronic fear of environmental doom. A.A. Gill once described those afflicted as "the environmentally terrified". He'd seen the light many moons ago.
Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring.