Comment A hundred years ago, the socialist utopians had a vision of what they called "a world without want". The Zero Carbon Trust published its vision of Britain in 2030 earlier this month, and it's one where people's "wants" will substantially increase. Particularly anyone wanting, say, a lamb chop with rosemary and garlic, or a Shepherd's Pie.
The Trust wants British livestock be reduced to 20 per cent of current levels, and since shipping in frozen meat is carbon intensive, and verboten, you'll have to do without. Or be a Lord to afford one.
This one example is just one of the random miseries to be inflicted on the population as part of the Trust's proposed "New Energy Policy", a collection of ideas assembled with the scattergun enthusiasm of the Taliban. I know it's the end of the month, and everyone's ignored this document - but I urge you to download it - all 4MB of it.
Let me give you another example of how what was once an idealistic progressive impulse can turned into what we might justifiably call an "austerity jihad". After 1917, Trotsky had grand plans for mass transit - this would no longer be the preserve of an elite. The proletariat would travel far and wide, at low cost, and in great comfort. Not only that, but he envisaged room in Soviet train carriages for a string quartet. And a lectern. Travel would broaden the mind, Trotsky believed, in so many ways.
But back to the Zero Carbon Britain of 2030, we see that all domestic air travel will be banned, and all travel they deem unnecessary will also be impossible. This is not a group that thinks of Maglev Trains, speeding between London and Glasgow at over 300mph are a good idea. Mobility will pretty much return to C17 standards, where you had to hitch a lift from a passing horse.
Here's the odd thing.
Both the utopians then, and the carbon cult now, both think of themselves as bright progressives, essentially doing the world a favour. But one had a vision of the world as a fascinating place waiting to be explored and graced by the human touch, and of humans as curious creatures, and where imprisoning the mind was as much of a crime as imprisoning the body. The other merely sees us as quite nasty carbon-emitting units, where the mind is entirely absent.
The goal of the Zero Carbon Trust, as you would expect, is not an increase in human curiosity or fun, but that we all collectively… er, "emit" nothing. The policies then naturally fall into place - for to emit nothing, we must do nothing.
Let's look at a few examples. To get to a Zero Carbon Britain means reducing electricity consumption … by half. In turn, this means the end of modern industrial society - production of tangible goods would largely disappear. With nothing to sell, so would sales, marketing and support jobs. With nobody working nobody would have to move about. It all fits together. Hopefully you now see the genius of the plan. The minor issue of how the UK would then create any wealth (to pay for the feed-in tarriffs, for example) is completely ignored - in fact, there's no indication of what people would do, other than mend broken windmills.
Another big Trust idea you'll be glad to hear is to "decrease the thermostat/air temperature". Another mandate is decreased living areas. So we're going to have to live in even smaller houses. Which are a lot colder.
The extreme environmentalist's conception of a human, then, is a strictly materialist one: it's indistinguishable from their conception of an amoeba: humans have no autonomy, no free will, no curiosity, and they have an inability to feel pain. For their part, the Bolsheviks had a pretty brutal approach to property and dissent: for them, too, the ends justified the means. But the difference between the old utopians and the new, eco-driven ones, is striking. You couldn't wish for two greater contrasts.