Everyone is an environmentalist. Everyone loves nature. Maybe not as much as Al Gore and Tom Friedman, but still, everyone loves the pristine beauty of the natural world. You cannot attend school in America without being indoctrinated in the dogmas of environmentalism.
Yet, as soon as an idea becomes dogma it’s extremely difficult to argue against it. You will be subjected to name-calling and invective by those who worship at the Church of the Liberal Pieties.
Green policies are the province of the political left. They tend to disadvantage minorities and the less fortunate. Ironically, these are the people who vote green candidates into office.
Joel Kotkin has argued that California’s green gentry have been enacting policies that divide the world into haves and have-nots. The growing abyss between the green gentry and the permanent underclass is made even more permanent by green policies.
And they will blame it all on the Tea Party.
Today’s environmentalism is a plaything of the 1%. Kotkin explains:
The environmental movement has always been primarily dominated by the wealthy, and overwhelmingly white, donors and activists. But in the past, early progressives focused on such useful things as public parks and open space that enhance the lives of the middle and working classes. Today, green politics seem to be focused primarily on making life worse for these same people….
The green gentry today often refer not to sentiment but science — notably climate change — to advance their agenda. But their effect on the lower orders is much the same. Particularly damaging are steps to impose mandates for renewable energy that have made electricity prices in California among the highest in the nation and others that make building the single-family housing preferred by most Californians either impossible or, anywhere remotely close to the coast, absurdly expensive.
It’s a modern form of noblesse oblige. The gentry are convinced that they are doing what is right for everyone. A clean planet is in everyone’s best interest. Pollution is bad for everyone, equally.
Increasingly, the green gentry work in clean industries, in industries where the only labor involves manipulating symbols on computer screens. Kotkin points out that the server farms that sustain Google and Facebook are never located in California—where green policies have driven up the cost of energy.
The green gentry hate dirty industries, especially mining, agriculture and energy. Yet, these are gateways of opportunity for the poor and lower middle class. Thus are obstacles placed in the path of an member of the underclass who wants to advance in the world.
In Kotkin’s words:
Most of these gentry no doubt think what they are doing is noble. Few concern themselves with the impact these policies have on more traditional industries, and the large numbers of working- and middle-class people dependent on them. Like their Tory predecessors, they are blithely unconcerned about the role these policies are playing in accelerating California’s devolution into an ever more feudal society, divided between the ultrarich and a rapidly shrinking middle class.
Ironically, the biggest losers in this shift are the very ethnic minorities who also constitute a reliable voter block for Democratic greens. Even amid the current Silicon Valley boom, incomes for local Hispanics and African-Americans, who together account for one-third of the population, have actually declined — 18 percent for blacks and 5 percent for Latinos between 2009 and 2011, prompting one local booster to admit that “Silicon Valley is two valleys. There is a valley of haves, and a valley of have-nots.”
What will it take for the ethnic minorities to stop voting against their own interests? Good question, for which I do not have a good answer.
Thanks to green policies California is now divided against itself:
Due to the rise of the green gentry, California is becoming divided between a largely white and Asian affluent coast, and a rapidly proletarianized, heavily Hispanic and African-American interior. Palo Alto and Malibu may thrive under the current green regime, and feel good about themselves in the process, but south Los Angeles, Oakland, Fresno and the Inland Empire are threatened with becoming vast favelas.
This may constitute an ideal green future — with lower emissions, population growth and family formation — for whose wealth and privilege allow them to place a bigger priority on nature than humanity. But it also means the effective end of the California dream that brought multitudes to our state, but who now may have to choose between permanent serfdom or leaving for less ideal, but more promising, pastures.
We know what the problem is. We know who is responsible. Savvy members of the green gentry are hard at work shifting the blame.