Part two traces McKibben's advocacy of controlled economic decline.
McKibben is convinced that averting global warming requires a winding-down of modernity. . . . Th[e] [pre-modern] world of tight families and interdependent neighbors, says McKibben, was far more satisfying than our hyper-individualist, consumer-driven, tech-saturated present. He explains that his attraction to this pre-industrial social model long predated his encounter with the “greenhouse effect” in the Eighties. . . . Living in an increasingly isolating, secular, and materialist universe, McKibben’s young followers seem intent on turning climate apocalypticism into a substitute religion. That won’t fill the gap. You can run from the economy, but you can’t hide. And catastrophism alone will not a morality make.McKibben has pivoted adroitly to address changing beliefs about fuel reserves and climate, from global cooling to global warming, and from peak oil to the need to sequester 80% of supplies that suddenly are burgeoning to dangerous levels:
Just three years after McKibben consigned peak-oil denialism to the dustbin of history, peakism itself looks ready for the broom. Drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other technologies for tapping so-called unconventional oil have ushered in a new era of fossil-fuel abundance. And it has all followed the classical economist’s playbook. As oil scarcity forced prices up, technical innovations once too costly to consider increased supply. Mistaken end-of-oil predictions have been issued since the dawn of the industrial age. All have been swept away by technological breakthroughs driven by the law of supply and demand.
While a few peak-oilers hold out, McKibben himself seems to have surrendered. Not scarcity but fossil-fuel abundance is our problem, he now says. His divestment campaign is essentially an attempt to induce peak oil artificially, via political pressure.Today's final installment examines the level of debate-squelching needed to make all this seem like good sense to the voters now emerging from fine campuses.