Monday, January 21, 2008

Greenmongering pits poor against planet

                                 tata_nano_0110

Pictured above is the world's cheapest car: the Tata Nano.  The entry level model retails at just US$2500.  Its makers hope to sell over a million Nanos a year, and at that price and in one of the world's most populated markets, you wouldn't bet against them.  The market for which the Nano is intended and in which it will be built is India.  Ratan Tata, the entrepreneur responsible, told Time magazine he expects it to revolutionise life for poorer families:

Tata hopes the Nano will help millions of poor people around the world — the "Bottom of the Pyramid" in developing world marketing-speak —switch from two wheels to four.

It's impossible to overstate the boon for the word's poor of such a car.  As Brendan O'Neill says at Sp!ked Online, instead of "having to rely on overcrowded, unpredictable public transport or sweating everywhere by pushbike," "millions of people in the developed and very quickly developing world [can instead enjoy] the freedom, flexibility and – yes – status offered by a car."

This could transform India. If the railways, a byproduct of British colonialism, served India well in the twentieth century, then the rise of a new car culture could change the face and feel of India in the twenty-first. Millions more people will have steady, relatively well-paid jobs on car production lines; miles and miles of new roads and motorways will be constructed to accommodate the new motorised middle classes; and the average Joe Patel will enjoy greater speed and liberty in his everyday life courtesy of the affordable car. The People’s Car: one short drive for a man, one giant leap for mankind!

It's all good, you would think:  A win-win situation for everyone from Mr Tata to the dirt poor of India's dusty streets.  Not so.  The same kind of people who have between them made the developed world's houses more and more unaffordable bemoan this boon as "planet threatening" -- as far as the world's poor are concerned they say (just as Marie Antoinette might have said), "Let them all walk." 

   What [impoverished buyers] foolishly and selfishly think of as a wonderful opportunity to get their mitts on the steering wheel of a super-cheap four-wheeler is actually the latest instance of human destructiveness against the planet [notes O'Neill].
   ...
as one British newspaper points out, while the launch of The People’s Car has been greeted with ‘zeal’ by India’s middle classes and aspirant working classes, it has been greeted with ‘worry’ from the environmentalist lobby, which is disgusted by the ‘unbridled enthusiasm’ of ordinary Indians for the super-cheap car, and which predicts ‘a plague of ever-cheaper cars and ever-swelling clouds of climate-changing fumes.’ The People’s Car will apparently have ‘drastic consequences for pollution.' Those dirty Indians.
   Environmentalists’ discomfort with The People’s Car throws into stark relief one of their core convictions: that the developing world must not achieve the same standard of living or level of wealth as we in the West enjoy, because if it does the Earth will perish.

Once again, global greenmongering puts at risk global prosperity, this time for those who need it most.  And once again we see their global crusade pitting their planetary aspirations ahead of real people and their own push for prosperity.  "As a used-car salesman in New Delhi said when The People’s Car was launched: ‘It’s the same dream anywhere in the world. You want a good home, a good car and a beautiful wife'." But that's not a dream the "eco-miserabilists" want these uppity brown people to have.  As O'Neill concludes,

However much green activists use the word ‘rich’ and ‘middle class’ as terms of abuse, there’s no disguising the fact that these Westernised, white-led campaign groups are lecturing brown people for getting ideas above their station – or above their station wagon, in the case of The People’s Car.

In his book All the Trouble in the World, PJ O'Rourke pointed out the covert racism of all the hand-wringing about the "population explosion" back when the population was supposed to be exploding, and we were all supposed to be worrying.  That myth was largely exploded by Julian Simon in his book The Ultimate Resource, a reviewer of which  makes the same point as O'Rourke and O'Neill:

Pervading the anti-growth movement is the miasma of racism, as evinced by this extract from The Population Bomb quoted in The Ultimate Resource: "I came to understand the population explosion emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi...The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping, people visiting, arguing and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people." You can almost hear it: "my dear, the natives, they were everywhere. Beastly, smelly people, little better than rats". The fact that these "human pollutants" have just as much right to existence as any one of us seems to escape the population doomsayers.

The doomsayers haven't disappeared, neither has their (still) unacknowledged dirty secret -- and nor have they yet accepted that reviewer's ultimate point.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous JC said...

Good post. Agree about the traditional Green racism that pollutes our planet.

This little car will eventually reduce pollution in India as it replaces the old fleet.

Now all we need is a similar car for 3rd world NZ to render our 2nd hand Jap imports obsolete.

As an aside.. why does the somewhat affluent Jenetic Fitz on her farmlet milking a cow remind me of a fulfillment of the McGillicuddy Serious Party "Great Leap Backwards"?

JC

1/21/2008 06:47:00 pm  
Anonymous RobiNZ said...

I agree and posted similarly.

"If the Nano succeeds Tata will change economies and societies. The call to deny people that opportunity is usually made by those who already benefit from it. How can I deny someone personal mobility, when I own a car."

http://rcd.typepad.com/personal/2008/01/tata-nano-it-do.html

1/21/2008 06:57:00 pm  
Anonymous bonnie prince geoffie (the reluctant) said...

why does the somewhat affluent Jenetic Fitz on her farmlet milking a cow remind me of a fulfillment of the McGillicuddy Serious Party "Great Leap Backwards"?


Maybe because there are 2 ex-McGillicuddies currently sitting as MPs for the Greens, and several others are running around behind the scenes. That is why they get my vote - yay the great leap backwards!!

1/21/2008 07:09:00 pm  
Anonymous JC said...

"Maybe because there are 2 ex-McGillicuddies currently sitting as MPs for the Greens, and several others are running around behind the scenes. That is why they get my vote - yay the great leap backwards!!"

You're joking? :)

JC

1/21/2008 10:08:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

Of course the main problem is not the car, but that what they run on will still be operated as bureaucratically run and owned free to all infrastructure - government run roads.

1/22/2008 01:17:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

This will be great for the poor, and it is completely unjust for us to deny them a car when we have them.

However there are environmental and practical concerns with increased global car numbers. Regardless of whether you believe in climate change or not, oil WILL be in shorter and shorter supply in the future. This is indisputable. We must look at alternatives to oil for very practical reasons.

We cannot deny the poor a car. But we can pursue solutions in our own country that will reduce oil consumption, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This can only be good, in the long run, from a financial and national security point of view.

Let them have their cars. They are poor. We should have the cash to do better ourselves, rather than expect them to not use oil and leave it all for us to guzzle.

1/22/2008 05:29:00 am  
Anonymous Dave Mann said...

Nice post, Peter. Did you invent the word 'greenmonger'? If so, well said!

What these miserable specimens utterly fail to acknowledge is that development and industrial and material progress are, in themselves, the solutions to the so-called 'problems' that the greenies constantly put up against civilisation.

I grew up in post war London, where the pollution was so bad that the air at certain times was actually called 'pea soup'. Scores of people died each year from breathing in this crap. The trees and buildings were literally black tar-encrusted surfaces which nobody would want to touch.

If you go to London today it is almost inconceivable that this is the same city. It is a sparkling and stunning place now, and yet the standard of living and the level of consumer convenience far outstrips what was available in the 1950s. How was this achieved? By the application of technological knowhow and development, not by the withdrawal of it.

In India, likewise, the smoke and fumes from literally millions of 2-stroke motorised rickshaws makes the air in most of their cities almost unbreathable. The belching buses are almost as bad and the general effect is bedlam and stink. What fucking right do these eco-fucks have to try to deny the Indians progress? Their arrogance is beyond understanding.

London didn't clean up its act through fears for the PLANET.. it cleaned it up because the people needed to make their surroundings more habitable. Simple as that. No superstitious religion involved.

As for 'running out of oil', how many sane people actually believe that energy producers will just sit and watch their whole industries die in the unlikely event that the 'oil runs out'? Honestly. Humans will do whatever it takes to find a replacement for oil - provided our drive for progress isn't completely destroyed by the depressive propaganda of the eco-fucks in the meantime. We have the science. We have the technology... don't let these parasites deny us the will and the confidence to progress and develop.

1/22/2008 09:26:00 am  

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