Tom Fort

The rhetoric of fairyland

I have never met George Monbiot, and I know nothing personally about him to his discredit. I have no reason to think that he is other than polite to shopkeepers, considerate to other road-users, fond of animals, a staunch friend, a sound family man, a respectful and affectionate son. I can only judge the keeper of the Guardian’s green conscience from the tone of his writing, and I don’t much care for it.

Each week for ten years or so Monbiot has ascended the pulpit provided for him by successive Guardian editors to preach his world view. It is one permeated with disgust at the way we live, contempt for our institutions and political establishment, and disdain for his fellow countrymen and women for their supine acquiescence in the power-and-profit conspiracy engineered by the Western powers and multinational corporations.

Climate change has furnished a perfect parable of greed, selfishness and stupidity to sustain Monbiot’s assault on the corrupt world we have made for ourselves. The architects are familiar: America and its allies, big business, the energy industry, the fools and scoundrels who deny what is in front of their noses, the fantasists with their imbecile confidence that ‘technology’ will save us. The victims are the world’s poor and innocent. And we, the consumers, are the silent, guilty collaborators, damned unless we mend our ways.

Regular readers of Monbiot will be familiar with much of the contents of this book, and with its tone of impregnable, self- righteous certitude. The argument is simply put. To avert climate catastrophe we need to cut the existing level of carbon emissions by 90 per cent before 2030. To do it, we must reform our lives: stop flying, stop driving, stop shopping at super- markets, stop living in draughty houses, the usual stuff.

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