Monday, April 21, 2008

Hail The New Puritan!

If you want a vision of the future, imagine hemp lingerie irritating your crotch -- forever.

Melanie Reid explains:

[I]f society proceeds down the true path of eco-purity, we may well save the planet; but will simultaneously discover that life is too dull to be worth living on it any more. Women in particular, I fear, will find themselves returned to the Dark Ages.

How can it be otherwise? No skiing, no cars, no travel, no exotic foods, no extravagance, no Hollywood, no wasteful labour-saving devices, no clothes made of anything but recycled plastics and hemp. No more Luxx magazine filled with beautifully engineered, sleek, accessory porn.
There's the summum bonum for you in a nutshell: consumption, and plenty of it. Love, parenthood, friendship, knowledge, the comforts and terrors of art and religion and nature...none of it means anything at all, unless your mailbox is filled to bursting with catalogues advertising high-end lingerie, heated towel racks and electric nose-hair trimmers. Here we have endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful, none of which could ever grow stale or flat.

And what does "eco-purity" offer in return for the loss of this bounty? Chafed labia and cheap grace!
What is becoming so fascinating about the new puritanism is not just that we are all being brainwashed to accept the inevitability of hair shirts, but also their unquestioned moral worth. That somehow or other, this life of sackcloth and bicycles is going to benefit our souls and make us all better people.
Certain painful acts of renunciation deserve our respect, like saving oneself for marriage, or going without healthcare, or spending Sunday mornings at church instead of a truck-stop glory hole. But saving energy is just And meanspirited, too; it's like saying we don't deserve endless growth and boundless consumption. Where's the pleasure in that?

Now, I happen to think that the "green design revolution" is occasionally too optimistic, or at least too wedded to the basic assumptions of hyperconsumerist chatterboxes like Melanie Reid. The last thing we need is a "green" version of this culture, with 100% recycled junk mail, and 100% sustainable sprawl, and solar nose-hair trimmers made by the tens of thousands in the Marianas. Design is responsibility, or it is nothing at all.

But the debate ultimately hinges on whether climate change is as serious as most scientists say. If it is, then with all due respect to Ms. Reid, the comfort of her nethers would be feather-light on the scale of things.

Which is probably why she dives immediately into denialism, via praise for David Bellamy, who has bravely challenged the prevailing orthodoxy by pointing out that it snowed a lot this winter.
David Bellamy...declared recently that the extended spring ski season in Scotland - deep, extensive snow cover, the best in a decade - could be proof that global warming does not exist quite as painted. He pointed out that the global high-temperature record has not been broken for a decade, and temperatures are now flat or falling.

Indeed, the impartial observer might see the harder weather - together with the recent bitterly cold winter in China and the Arctic - as a joyful thing: a sign that maybe things aren't that bad after all.

But oh no. This kind of heresy must be crushed.
I'll say. For helpful hints on crushing this kind of heresy, we could do worse than consult the burlap-clad neopuritan worrywarts at the The World Meteorological Congress:
The long-term upward trend of global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing. Global temperatures in 2008 are expected to be above the long-term average. The decade from 1998 to 2007 has been the warmest on record, and the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C since the beginning of the 20th Century.

The current La NiƱa event, characterized by a cooling of the sea surface in the central and eastern Equatorial Pacific, is a “climate anomaly” part of natural climate variability.
The opinion of the WMO probably means little to Reid, who objects to being lectured on climatology by "climate-change academics," particularly when "they announce, in as menacing a tone as Abu Izzadeen, that we ignore what is happening 'at our peril.'"

You can see her point. Who wants to be dragged down by all this talk of "peril," when there's vitally important shopping to be done, and the cool caress of silken underthings to enjoy? Besides, climatologists only say these things because it pays their bills, just as aspirin manufacturers only make aspirin because people get headaches. It's all so obvious when you think about it.

It's not the lies that bother Reid, though. It's not even the absurdity of trying to meaure the "hypothetical waste" emitted by cars ("how is it possible?" she asks, her eyes wide as saucers). It's that goddamn hemp lingerie:
My real problem with the eco-alarmists is the pleasure they take in austerity; their evident desire to strip away pleasure....They dislike colour, excess and fun. They really do want to see us imprisoned in a narrow, grey, scratchy world of recycled car tyres and hemp lingerie (and no, I didn't make that up).
At last we've reached the center of this labyrinth. Climate denialism is a feminist issue, and here's why:
Who will be the victims of the eco-smug; of this pious gospel of make-do-and-mend? Why, women - who will have to forgo their washing machines and their dish washers, carry supermarket shopping on the bus, and return to the horror of reuseable nappies.
In other words, women will suffer because they'll have to continue doing "women's work," which apparently becomes unjust and onerous only when it involves reuseable diapers. You can't get much more radical than that, even if thy name be Dworkin.

I suppose you could argue that men ought to be helping out with these chores, where applicable, whether we're headed for a grey eco-socialist dystopia or not. But I suspect that'd only provide further evidence that the "climate hoax" is part of a massive social-engineering experiment that'll simultaneously force women back into traditional roles (that they haven't actually left), and emasculate men by forcing them to change diapers instead of working in steel mills and fighting the Hun.

I'd love to discuss this at greater length, but right now I have to put on my hemp underwear and lick the dishes clean.

1 comment:

Abie said...

Oh yeah, this column...
I got spitting mad while reading and I'm afraid I even yelled "Go fuck yourself woman!".

I still don't know whether she honestly think the way to protect women is to protect power hungry washing machines or wheter she's enough of a hypocrit to use the "feminist" card against environment defense.

I sent the link to, but i don't know if they've commented on it.