Climate. CHANGE! The Totalitarian Temptation

Contributed by Drieu Godefridi, Ph.D., lawyer  ©September 2016

English version of “La tentation totalitaire de l’écologie”

In 2010 I published a modest essay in epistemology (IPCC: A Scientific Body? ) characterizing the IPCC – UN study group on climate – as a political organization (and not a scientific one).


At the time, I was virtually alone in supporting this thesis. Talk television at the time denied me a platform, seeing me as some kind of denier of science, or a shill for Big Oil.  Shortly thereafter, I was joined in this critical view by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise (“IPCC: The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”), and many others, until this thesis was also adopted by the US Republican Party in its latest version, and today Nicolas Sarkozy (BBC, September 14, 2016). Does this mean that reason has triumphed? Does this mean that the IPCC reports will now be recognized for what they are, that is to say, political documents – and not scientific reports- making them the most disheveled liaison vehicle of environmentalist ideology? It is too early to tell. For, according to a conventional intellectual schema, as they are discredited, the proponents of the dominant thesis tend to become more radical.
Thus the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which is the largest organization of Economic Research of the United States, has just published a study on how the US economy should adapt to climate change. This study has been largely picked up by the American press under the theme of: “the US Economy in WWII as a Model for Coping with Climate Change” (NBER Working Paper, September 2016). To fight climate change, the effects of which are compared to the bombs dropped on Europe by the Nazis (sic, page 4), this report suggests that to succeed in the fight against climate change one must transform the US economy into a ‘climate war’ economy. This implies, among other things, the limitless growth of government spending (“gold rush economics”), government control of the means of production, administrative control over economic factors (prices, rates, rents) and of course, rationing. A package which indeed defines the economy of a country at war. Considering that war is a situation analogous to the “ecological disaster” that we know, the author of the report shows how, in 1941, the American economy was converted into a war economy, how many new infrastructure projects were built by the government (including pipelines), how many new materials were invented such as synthetic rubber, and how new aluminum deposits were exploited.

Rationing of metals, privileges for the arms industry: this is the picture of a war economy. The best example, according to the author of the report, of what a government can do in a time of war, is the “Manhattan Project” that is to say the development of the nuclear bomb. Funding was provided by taxes and by borrowing.

The author continues to wonder why, with the success of the administered economy, why this “war socialism” (sic) was rejected after the war. The author’s conclusion? It was mainly due to communication problems because we let strikes settle and spread corporate propaganda for the “free market”. In that author’s view, there is, therefore no structural obstacle to the establishment of a planned economy in peacetime.
This planned economy would differ from previous as its objective, which would not be producing as needed, but to limit human production of greenhouse gases. The idea is that by assigning everyone a rightful place, the government would have the means to reduce CO2 emissions and to manage the consequences of extreme weather events (supposed to multiply, p. 3).
Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek showed that the control of economic activity involves the control of the life of every individual in all its aspects, not only in the economic aspects. The one who decides what can be produced, by whom and where; what can be consumed, by whom and in what quantities, this one does not only control the lives of citizens but is also the one that sets the scale of values. All at once the omniscient demon of Laplace, the Hobbesian Leviathan, and Big Brother, the master planner becomes the master of souls.

Moreover, the report of the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests, as an aperitif, the rapid, mandatory, displacement of the population (p. 5 and 17) and the prohibition of strikes (p. 35). This will pose no difficulty since the government will be freed of all financial and legal constraints (p. 15). This grand ‘climate change war plan’ will obliterate the basic freedoms of the public very effectively, since the intended enemy — “climate change” – is unlikely to be defeated.

Such delusional projects as this one, which is in line with the recommendations of the IPCC’s Malthusian view, are the mark of a debate that was believed to have been based on science, whereas it was rooted in ideology.

If we are to go ‘to war’ on these grounds, would it not be appropriate that following the American parliamentary majority, European politicians hold public hearings on the politicization of climate science?


Drieu Godefridi

Ph.D., lawyer




  1. Jeffery Green

    Its the wealth of the fossil fuel’s influence on gov. that holds back a stronger pace on climate action. The slower our pace on climate action, the higher the cost to our future childrens living space.

    This grand ‘climate change war plan’ will obliterate the basic freedoms of the public very effectively, since the intended enemy — “climate change” – is unlikely to be defeated.

    Scientists think we could hit a critical climate threshold in the next 10 years

    OXFORD, England (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week.

  2. Robert Lyman

    Mr. Godefridi’s article highlights an extremely important aspect of the political challenge posed by global warming alarmism, its need and willingness to adopt totalitarian control to achieve its objectives. One might think, based on the costly but relatively less intrusive measures taken by governments to date that this is an exaggeration. It is not “totalitarian” to close down coal-burning power plants that still have many years of economic life and to replace them with expensive and intermittent energy sources like solar panels and industrial wind turbines; it just wastes society’s scarce resources and makes us all poorer. It is not totalitarian to massively subsidize renewable energy production, investment in certain favoured technologies that are not yet commercially viable, the production and purchase of electric cars and energy storage systems, etc.; it simply involves governments wasting people’s money. These measures, unwise as they are, only reduce emissions by 15 to 25% and only in the developed countries. To attain the alarmists’ goal of ending the use of oil, natural gas and coal within 34 years, one would have to force people to forego almost all present transportation energy systems, shut down most energy-intensive industries (e.g. autos, steel, petrochemicals, mining, etc.), extremely densify all cities, limit the size of dwellings and options available for people to live, and generally substitute government controls and choices for those that people would otherwise make freely. For reasons I have written on elsewhere in the Friends of Science web site, it is highly unlikely this is even technically feasible. The path to totalitarianism might or might not involve a single critical election in which the New Leader takes over; more likely it would involve the steady, incremental expansion of regulation and taxation and the corresponding step-by-step loss of personal choices about how to use energy and how to live one’s life. Mr. Godefridi’s warning is timely.

  3. Rupert Longjam

    Godfreidi – A critique of science by a lawyer? Appeal to authority logical fallacy?

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