“I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!” So tweets Donald Trump. This is why we must promote the exploitation of the vast reserves of coal in this country. That, and the extension of civil nuclear power, are the means of delivering highly paid, highly skilled, high status, unionised jobs while securing independence from Arab oil, from Russian gas, and from coal that has been mined using child and slave labour. From North Korea, Trump intends his dynasty to supply a dependent world with the coal of the Kim dynasty deep into the twenty-second century. Yet we have our own, right here under our feet. Horror stories about how coal was burned or mined in the Britain of the twentieth century have no relevance to the Britain of the twenty-first.
This is part of a wider battle. We must reject out of hand the notion that the problem with the world is that it has people in it. Instead, we must celebrate the full compatibility between the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past. That expansion and development must now include space exploration, fuelled by, and fuelling, fusion power. As a species, this is what we do. This is why we are not all still living in caves in one small part of Africa. The continent, by the way, to which the twenty-second century will belong. But of that, another time.
“To increase the power of Man over Nature, and to abolish the power of Man over Man,” said Trotsky. “Dominion,” says the God of the Bible. Dominion over the beasts, thus over the land, and thus over everything on and under the land. Dominion over the fish, thus over the waters, and thus over everything in and under the waters. Dominion over the birds, thus over the sky, and thus over everything in the sky, as far up as the sky goes, and the sky goes up a very long way. That dominion is entrusted so that we might, “be fruitful and multiply.” Entrusted as it is to the whole human race, its purpose is, “To increase the power of Man over Nature, and to abolish the power of Man over Man.”
Therefore we need an approach to climate change which protected and extended secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, which encouraged economic development around the world, which upheld the right of the working classes and of nonwhite people to have children, which held down and as far as practicable reduced the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and which refused to restrict travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich.
Look back to 1870, to each of what were to become the New Deal United States, Social Democratic Western Europe, and the Soviet Bloc. Then look at each of those in 1970. Neither laissez-faire economics, nor caring overly much about the fate of rare voles, had delivered electrification, or mass transportation, or decent accommodation, or proper sanitation, or universal vaccination, or space exploration. Are we to deny to Indians, or to Chinese, or to Brazilians, the same progress that we ourselves have made, and instead leave them defecating in communal pits while waiting to die of cholera or typhus? Are we to have the women of Africa continue to die, as the women of Europe did for thousands of years, from the fumes emitted by the open fires over which they cooked? This has nothing to do with post-imperial guilt, which is contestable. This has everything to do with common humanity, which is not.
If you hear echoes here of the debates around hunting or whaling, then, while I am not quite sure that I agree with you, I do take your point. Much as I take the point, without necessarily being quite sure that I agree with it, of those who see similarities between the attempted restriction of Second Amendment rights in the United States and the impending attempt to ban private drone ownership in Britain after the recent carry on at Gatwick Airport. There is no evidence that there ever was a drone there, and indeed Sussex Police publicly denied it until “a conference call” with “the Cabinet Office” changed their tune. But look out for every “security” measure of which most Labour and all Conservative MP have been dreaming since the days when Tony Blair was Shadowing Michael Howard at the Home Office. “Security”, and especially “Islamist terrorism”, is one of the two supposedly unanswerable pretexts for doing absolutely anything that had already been in the head of the person advocating it. The other used to be called “the environment”, then it was called “global warming”, and now it is called “climate change”.
In Britain, Greens and their fellow-travellers need to be asked the Yes-No question: “Do you regret the defeat of the miners in 1985?” The British Left’s biggest annual event is the Durham Miners’ Gala. At 2018’s, a video message from Bernie Sanders had to be corrected immediately from the platform by the Chairman of the Labour Party, Ian Lavery. Lavery reiterated his party’s commitment to the application of clean coal technology, not to the abandonment of fossil fuels. When Jeremy Corbyn rose to speak, then there was no correction to that correction.
As Piers Corbyn has pointed out, Margaret Thatcher took up all of this Greenery as an excuse to destroy the National Union of Mineworkers. All Conservatives still agree with her, and see the destruction of the coal industry as one of their party’s greatest ever achievements. Sadly, most Labour MPs would also never go near the Durham Miners’ Gala, or even know what it was. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and our people need to hold the balance of power in it.