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Covid-19: a glimpse of the dystopia greens want us to live in

This pandemic has shown us what life would be like if environmentalists got their way.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Greens just can’t help themselves. As the rest of us do what we can to tackle or withstand the Covid-19 crisis, they treat it as a sign, a warning from nature, a telling-off to hubristic, destructive mankind. The speed with which they have folded this pandemic into their misanthropic narrative about humanity being a pox on the planet has been shocking, but not surprising.

Right from the top of the UN, they have been promoting their backward belief that this virus is a reprimand from nature. Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, says ‘nature is sending us a message’ with this pandemic and other recent disasters, including bushfires in Australia and locust invasions in Kenya. Of course nature is doing no such thing, because nature is not a sentient being, however much the new religion of environmentalism might fantasise that it is.

The Guardian reports that Andersen thinks humanity’s ‘destruction of the natural world for farming, housing and mining’ is making pandemics more likely. In short, human growth, modern society itself, is now getting its comeuppance. We think we can farm and mine and, erm, build houses as we see fit, but here comes nature with her punishment: a terrible disease. This is positively Biblical. Gaia is God in this scenario, coming to punish us for our sins.

A group of scientists agrees with Andersen. They describe Covid-19 as a ‘clear warning shot’ from nature, telling human civilisation that it is ‘playing with fire’. This is the political exploitation of a horrible disease to the end of winding back human industry: what a low trick.

Britain’s chief bourgeois misanthrope, George Monbiot, was hot on the heels of the UN’s eco-medievalists. He says Covid-19 has shattered humanity’s self-serving myth that it has achieved ‘insulation from natural hazards’. There is a grotesque glee in the way Monbiot describes what Covid-19 has unleashed – ‘the membrane has ruptured’, he says, and ‘we find ourselves naked and outraged, as the biology we appeared to have banished storms through our lives’.

Monbiot also views this pandemic as a lesson from nature. The headline to his piece says: ‘Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to our complacent civilisation.’ And what is the content of nature’s violent lesson to disgusting mankind? It is to remind us that, for all our arrogance, we are actually ‘governed by biology and physics’.

There is something profoundly ugly in this. Monbiot and other greens seem to view Covid-19 as a disaster that will have an upside: it might roll back the Enlightenment-era belief that humankind can exercise dominion over nature and remind us that actually we are at nature’s mercy. They hope this disaster will restore nature’s power over the humanised world.

This is also why so many greens online have been sharing images of dolphins swimming near Venice or an absence of airplane trails over California. Because to them, these are signs of a benefit from Covid-19: the humbling of humankind, the reining in of our industrial and technological activity, and the reassertion of nature’s awesome power. If you see a disease as a political statement, as an opportunity to pursue your pre-existing misanthropic agendas, there is something very wrong with you.

Even though all of this is morally perverse, it is not surprising. For a long time, greens have viewed human beings as a pox, a virus in our own right, doing untold damage to the planet. Green god David Attenborough has said humans are ‘a plague on the planet’. Even when greens don’t use such explicitly hateful language, they constantly promote a view of human production and development as toxic and destructive.

And they latch on to everything from bushfires to floods, from plagues of locusts to melting ice-caps, as signs from nature, lessons from a furious Gaia. When religious crackpots blame floods on gay marriage, claiming God is punishing us for losing the moral plot, we rightly mock them. Yet greens offer merely a secular version of such backward, apocalyptic claptrap.

The truth is that if the Covid-19 crisis has shown us anything, it is how awful it would be to live in the kind of world greens dream about. Right now, courtesy of a horrible new virus, our societies look not dissimilar to the kind of societies Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, green parties and others have long been agitating for. Fewer flights, industry halted, huge infrastructure projects put on hold. Less driving, less travelling, less human interaction. Over the past few weeks, as a result of our response to Covid-19, the ‘human footprint’ will undoubtedly have shrunk. And what an awful world it has become: smaller, quieter, more atomised.

We are all happy to make some sacrifices during this crisis. We are staying home, observing social distancing, and of course, most of us are not working or travelling. But we cannot wait to go back to a world in which factories crank back to life, airplanes scrawl their lines in the sky, and people can go anywhere and work, socialise, buy and eat to their heart’s content. Greens really should be careful when they talk about Covid-19, because it won’t be long before more and more people realise that this unpleasant emergency we are living through is just like the warped dystopia greens want to build.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Nun Yerbidness

8th April 2020 at 6:38 pm

so I guess the “herd immunity’ strategy came up snake eyes.

Sorry to hear about your PM, bet you wish you all hadn’t gone with your austerity regime.

Thoughts and prayers.

Tom Taylor-Duxbury

29th March 2020 at 9:23 am

Maybe they could listen to the voice in their head and rather than self isolate just self eliminate. First step of their long journey, well they do seem to want sacrifices so I suggest you start with your own.

Howard Hirsch

28th March 2020 at 8:38 pm

Simon Flynn

28th March 2020 at 7:49 pm

You’re British. Why not write British?

Ann Ceely

28th March 2020 at 12:52 pm

All the current evidence is that the data can be manipulated to give opposing opinions.
* On March 18th, the Imperial College Team used incomplete and untested data sets of infectiousness, susceptibility & severity to show that the NHS will be overwhelmed.
* While the Oxford UniversityTeam used incomplete data sets to produce a scenario which is much the same as the annual flu season.
Because the Government is responsible for the NHS, they then needed to act to prevent journalists making them seem incompetent.

However, now, 28th March, the Imperial Team have confirmed that their potential death figure includes all those who would have died anyway. And that the NHS will be able to cope with all who need hospitalisation.

So, a scare in a teacup!!!!

Darth Saddius

28th March 2020 at 10:43 am

Hi Michael Roberts. This a response to your post of 27th March 2020 at 1:07 pm. The reply buttons which show here on my system are a bit random so I’m posting a response here. Firstly thank you for your reply and for the friendly polite tone of it. It is all too easy for debates about this matter to descend into ‘yah boo sucks’. It certainly does over at the Daily Telegraph where I sometime amuse myself by commenting on AGW.

Regarding the recent geological time events you discuss this is an area I have not yet looked in any meaningful detail so I won’t comment specifically in these areas at the moment. Funnily enough in my retirement I am doing a science degree for interest which is mainly geology*. The course has covered a lot of environmental change largely in the context of sedimentary geology where it is directly connected. We haven’t reached the last glacial maximum yet as we’ve been looking much further back. I think will do so in the current module I am doing. I am now looking forward to it with baited breath.

Briefly (as the boss is about to dragoon me into the garden for labouring duties) I will just reiterate my understanding that a primary concern about CO2 levels amongst scientists is not the absolute concentration but the rate of change of concentration. Having a target level of x ppm CO2 is not because x ppm is some magical figure but because it is calculated to dare I say ‘flatten the curve’.

With regard to plants and elevated CO2 this a fascinating and hot topic in botany at the moment. Simplifying considerably for some plants it enhances growth, for others it has less effect. In part this is due to the different photosynthetic pathways different plant groups use – C3, C4, CAM. Even within these three groups the responses vary. C4 plants are interesting in this regard as they include a lot of important crop plants. There is evidence that some crop plants for example become less nutritious at higher CO2 levels. Worth looking into if you find this sort of thing interesting.

Broadly and againg simplifying somewhat I think many of the journalists/writers on this site mix up the politics/sociology/psychology of ‘environmentalism’ (a valid subject for debate to be sure) with the science of the environment. I just think this muddies the waters in an unhelpful fashion.

Now the sun is shining and I’m off to stick some C3 plants in the ground.

*Pre retirement I worked in an obscure backwater of materials science. One relevant thing I took from this is that our lab used to have a very expensive piece of kit that used an infra-red laser to generate data by bombarding different materials. The absorption of the IR by atmospheric CO2 was so high that the machine had to be designed to take this into account. You could either use software to chop the CO2 swamping out or flush the specimen chamber with nitrogen which is transparent to IR. I always remember this fondly when someone at the Telegraph says ‘CO2 doesn’t absorb IR! I saw a video on youtube!!’.

Timothy Hoffman

27th March 2020 at 9:35 pm

Asif. Why the obsessive hate for Jerry? What did he ever do to you? A diligent moderator would boot you off this site!

Mike Arthur

27th March 2020 at 7:57 pm

W.R.T DARTH SADDIUS 25th March 2020 at 9:56 pm

The US EPA notoriously labelled CO2 as a pollutant in 2012, e.g. ””the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases–carbon dioxide (CO2), … in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

Jerry Prager

27th March 2020 at 8:17 pm

The sky looks like its been scrubbed clean of pollutants from where i stand out here in the desert. There’s a sense of tranquility in the air, too, as most man made activities have come to a halt. I sense we’ve given nature a chance to heal itself for the time being. I’m no tree hugger, but i can tell you we owe that much to our environment. If it takes a pandemic to do a bit of spring cleaning for mother earth, then there’s a silver lining in this tragedy after all.

Jerry Owen

28th March 2020 at 1:42 pm

So what do you suggest, a week or two of misery every hundred years or so?
If the planet looks good to you now. It seems that’s all we need to do.

Darth Saddius

28th March 2020 at 10:06 am

I’m happy to stand corrected. However the argument/debate about whether one should call CO2 a pollutant or not is, I feel, somewhat academic. It’s a bit like asking ‘what is a weed?’ A weed is a plant in a place where someone doesn’t want it.

What is a pollutant? It depends on what you want to know about effects. Imagine being in an aircraft hanger in the airspace of which are 10 molecules of methyl isocyanate. The concentration of this chemical is way too low for you to experience any toxic effects – is a it a pollutant or not? I would say in this context it is not an active pollutant. If someone maliciously started pumping methyl isocyanate into the hangar at some point, and if the flux in was greater than the flux out, toxic levels would be reached, and at that point one could more justifiably call the methyl isocyanate a pollutant (and potentially a murder weapon!).

When CO2 is described as a pollutant it is within a particular context. Personally speaking, although it is my judgement based on a number of lines of evidence that AGW is happening and that it is a ‘clear and present danger’ I think that calling it a pollutant is unhelpful. Within the scientific community the context of such a usage is clearly understood, but to the wider public where the term ‘pollutant’ is more likely to be taken as something having well defined toxicological effect such as methyl isocyanate I think it is confusing. Firstly because we breathe in CO2 all the time (as well as exhaling it) and so it is difficult to think of it as a pollutant*. Secondly because the issue with atmospheric CO2 concentrations is not (as long as certain limits are not exceeded) the absolute concentration but the rate of change of concentration. i.e. to use the terminology of physical chemistry the concern is not [CO2] but d[CO2]/dt.

*Although to be sure if you are exposed to a high enough level of CO2 for long enough you will die. Tragically such cases are not unknown from the history of industrial accidents. Just to be crystal clear though this is not what people mean when referring to CO2 as a pollutant in the context of AGW.


27th March 2020 at 9:31 am

It would be funny if the animal kingdom turned the tables on humans-kicked them out of their lovely homes , sat on our comfy sofas and watched TV and ate fast food . Trained binoculars on humans trying to build giant nests out of twigs-they could create a RSPH to protect the cuter humans while the rest become the slaves of the Emperor Penguins who demand we bring them fish in return for mineral resourses , so our Young can still have their mobile phones.

Jerry Owen

27th March 2020 at 9:43 am

Wow, do you do mail order for that particular substance ?

Asif Qadir

27th March 2020 at 1:10 pm

Hi Kathleen. In case you didn’t know by now, this is Jerry “Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut. He’s a full-blown nazi. As you can plainly see, for some reason he delights in running all over the site attempting to annoy those he perceives to be weaker than him, and/or those he thinks can’t/won’t fight back. I accept that it’s especially hilarious when he spews out complete non sequitur’s due to English being his second language, but it’s not something that people should have to put up with.

Amanda Purdy

27th March 2020 at 9:35 pm

Your comment was funny and a propos so Asif Qadir should politely go do something that is anatomically impossible to himself.

Asif Qadir

29th March 2020 at 4:20 pm

Hi Amanda. You appear to be new here ….Jerry “Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut is a stone-cold loser…You’ll see.

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Richard Mills

27th March 2020 at 8:21 pm

Wow some major retro-paganism you have there sweetheart.
The Wuhan virus is imply another face of “mother nature”. Nature can be beautiful like a rose and ugly like the black plague. Nature can be awesome like a pacific northwest forest and terrible like the explosion of Mt St Helen which destroyed 1000s of square miles of trees and millions of animals. Nature can dominating like the dinosaurs, but incredibly destructive like the asteroid that killed them all off. ALL of THEM!. But it takes sentient man to understand the wonder of human life and creation and bring the terrible swings of nature in line.
Unless of course you are a pagan, like the Mayans or Canaanites. Where 10s of 1000s of people are sacrificed to a insane belief that these sacrifices will appease the nature gods.

Very interesting that Wuhan is in the heart of a pagan/atheistic country.


29th March 2020 at 4:16 pm

What I meant is that the greens and their like (and does anyone else think Greta is rather like the Infant Phenomenon in Nicholas Nickleby?) claim to both understand ‘nature’ and know what is best for us all. It would be interesting if ‘nature’ in the form of millions and millions of insects, birds and animals suddenly made an evolutionary leap & gained free will & decided to take over what we have? Given that the XR protesters couldn’t last an afternoon without food being brought to them , they would hardly beable to fend for themselves in the usually cold and dangerous natural world , in fact other than a few people who pop up on Blaze programmes we are all fairly useless.

Chris Thorogood

26th March 2020 at 11:18 pm

Nothing wrong with keeping the planet tidy (or at least start tidying up the uk)
Nothing wrong with getting the dirty and noisy cars off the roads when we are capable of much better technology.
Nothing wrong with encouraging people to work closer to their home towns or from home even.

The Greens would never be able to implement their wishes to the extreme anyway.
Our energy demands have actually dropped since 2003 thanks to improved efficiency.

For those people enjoying peace and quiet and cleaner air. Remember there are huge numbers (a growth industry) of car enthusiasts who remove/replace the exhausts with louder ones and also removing catalyst convertors.

Jerry Owen

27th March 2020 at 9:45 am

Noise isn’t a pollutant, and if you remove the catalytic converter your car fails the MOT.

Asif Qadir

27th March 2020 at 1:24 pm

Jerry “Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut

Kraut logic tho, innit Oven-Kraut. What is the problem is your noise. Your inane and spiteful …horridness.

Anna Lloyd

26th March 2020 at 4:56 pm

I’m enjoying the peace and quiet and being able to breathe fresh air. I lived in London for 10 years and moved back to my home city when London became crushingly unbearable from 2002. I spent half my childhood in Bayswater so I know London very well. My home city, not far from London, had a gentle pace of life. Then it all changed and people from London (I can spot them a mile off) moved here and wrecked the tranquility, turning it into a horror show. My city right now reminds me very much of my childhood, peace at last! We don’t all like the hustle and bustle of city life and there should be an option to live a slower pace of life, to live somewhere quiet where there is also good employment with decent salaries. At the moment the good jobs are in the filthy cities. This world should not be designed wholly around temperaments like BON, ie people who like to shout a lot.

Jerry Owen

27th March 2020 at 9:49 am

Why don’t you move to Scotland or Wales, there’s some lovely clean tranquil areas in those places. Employment may be worse, but you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Asif Qadir

27th March 2020 at 1:29 pm

Anna Lloyd.

Jerry ” Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut is a full-blown nazi. He’s only urging you to these things because he knows those areas to be controlled, and he’ll be liable to a cut. It’s how these things work. Jerry ” Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut isn’t actually a full-blown trator tho. He was born in Munich.

carni vore

26th March 2020 at 2:22 pm

All these lovely pix of cleared et al. Lovely. And, ooops! Same number of cows. So will the greenies now let us eat our meat? Or will they choke to death on the admission that it never was the cows…

Chris Thorogood

26th March 2020 at 11:25 pm

Don’t mention Halal slaughter to the vegan lefties.
It’s only a certain group who must stop eating meat. Funny how the preachers suddenly zip their mouths when they get close to China or Muslim countries. Zero chance of those massive populations ever giving up meat. At least some religions’ eating habits seemed to be based on ancient hygiene practice. Unlike you-know-who’s

Graham Southern

26th March 2020 at 10:18 am

Greenism is one of the most obvious and virulent symptoms of the nihilism that is infecting our society.

Andrew Hirst

31st March 2020 at 4:05 am

Yes Graham, to these greens we have today, the whole industrial project, humanism in general, consciousness itself is a problem. The most obvoius way to get them back is to denounce them as a kind of religious cult. they answer that no, they are the real ‘scientists’, whilst at the same time they are undermining the real (human) basis of all the sciences.

Dominic Straiton

26th March 2020 at 9:25 am

Not a single doom laden climate crap has ever come to pass. The enviro mentalists are latching onto this because its all they have. The rest of us want to get back to economic growth as soon as possible.

David George

26th March 2020 at 3:01 am

Great book out recently on this, The Green Reich:
” Ban everything we can, eco-tax the rest: this could be the motto of the environmentalists in politics. If human CO2 is the problem, then Man must be restrained, controlled, suppressed in every one of his CO2-emitting activities: that is to say, in the totality of his actions. Researching environmentalism from the root of its anti-humanist ethic to the staggering heights of its actual demands — banning cars, aircraft, meat, nuclear energy, rural life, the market economy, modern agriculture, in short, post-Industrial-Revolution modernity — Drieu Godefridi shows that environmentalism defines a more radical ideology in its liberticidal, anti-economic and ultimately humanicidal claims than any totalitarian ideology yet seen. “Dividing humanity by a factor of ten” is the environmentalist ideal”

Michael Green

25th March 2020 at 11:04 pm

It’s clearer than ever that the eco-green movement is a return-to-the-primitive cult.


25th March 2020 at 11:12 pm



25th March 2020 at 10:31 pm

The local Chinese people in Wuhan are stating Coronavirus is a hoax, then what’s causing people to drop dead? Others would view this as natural causes. Some believe 5G wavelengths triggers brain cells deterioration with nose, mouth, throats stopping lungs from functioning.
Perhaps people without moral guidance follow science to achieve utopia backfired?
Humble horticulturists seems to knows better at the moment with plants being treated in a right environment.
People like rose bushes are prone to diseases and receive yearly pruning to revive again.
Maybe “simple” medieval people knew about nature controlling us not the other way round?

Jerry Owen

26th March 2020 at 6:57 am

The beauty is that we have the ability increasingly to control the negative aspects of nature.

Asif Qadir

27th March 2020 at 1:31 pm

…spoken like the nazi you are. Your guard has slipped, Jerry ” Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut.

Marvin Jones

27th March 2020 at 2:26 pm

I put it all down to migration and breeding. What is required is a national general knowledge quiz, and only people with a certain score should be allowed to have children. David Lammy could start this challenge, then Corbyn and Ed Vaizey etc.

Alexander Allan

25th March 2020 at 9:47 pm

Most atheists are actually pantheists and invoke a “mother nature” or “mother earth” as part of the new secularist eco-cult in which Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough are the new ‘prophets’ and the IPCC has become a secular magisterium for this pagan cult. Amusingly Illingworth described pantheism as “materialism grown sentimental”. BON, if he wasn’t ignorance and dismissive of religion, could have also mentioned that the Vicar of Rome has also embraced this new religion. In a recent Internet interview with a Spanish journalist named Jordi Evole he said “Fires, earthquakes . . . that is, nature is having a fit, so that we will take care of nature.” in respond to a question about the pandemic. Also in his latest apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia he evokes an eco-theology at odds with the Traditions of the Catholic Church but inline with secular eco-cultisism.

T Zazoo

26th March 2020 at 3:04 am

I don’t think that is true. Some people may do that but many atheists, such as myself don’t belong to any movement. We therefore can’t be counted in the way you are saying. We aren’t some political movement in the opposite direction. I am saying I don’t believe. I am not seeking to convert others to my view. That is their business.

Rosco Mac

25th March 2020 at 8:47 pm

When we are forced into the madness that is trying to control the weather by “net zero” emissions those left alive will look back at the days of COVID19 lockdown with fond memories and long for how much better things were under partial martial law and poverty !

Greens are insane – even the most passionate advocates for their dystopian society won’t like it once they realise how horrible it will be and that. shock horror, they also have to live with it !

Jim Lawrie

26th March 2020 at 12:06 am

The end of your last sentence perfectly describes what the Green models did not factor in, adn wha the Greens did not bargain for.

If their allies succeed in attacking our energy and water infrastructure, then it will be war.

Christopher Thompson

25th March 2020 at 8:38 pm

Well done Brendan, a point of view that needed to be published.

Adamsson 66

25th March 2020 at 7:04 pm

On the bright side the roads are empty all the camera vans are working from home and the police are busy doing other things. You can go as fast as you like!

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 7:48 pm

You say that. A friend of my wife was stopped by the police in a road block this morning and asked where she was going.
Quite chilling they can do this.

Neil John

25th March 2020 at 9:14 pm

Some of our local ‘monks’ are still going out in the s’camera vans on popular cross-country routes, the lunacy of some drivers, including food truckers, continues unabated… Better ‘earnings’ potential as the roads are clear of dawdling drivers too.

Linda Payne

26th March 2020 at 5:21 am

Yes the police are now busy arresting people for sitting too close to each other in public

James Knight

25th March 2020 at 6:43 pm

XR activists are saying corona is the cure, humanity is the disease.

Neil John

25th March 2020 at 9:17 pm

Then they need to short-circuit the problem, stop breeding entitled middle-class prats and cease their consumption by exiting, but not stage left!

Jerry Owen

26th March 2020 at 9:02 am

Neil John
I am beginning to wonder just who is doing all the stockpiling. Is it the poorer people in track suits the media love to film and photo coming out of ASDA with trollies full of bog rolls? Surely poorer people by now would have either :-
A. Run out of money.
B. Run out of storage space.
Where are the photos of horders coming out of Waitrose or Sparks?
I suspect it’s the wealthier stockpiling. You can’t get a big freezer in a three bed semi, but a large five bed house with a big double freezer or two in a double garage gives a lot of scope for hoarding.

Asif Qadir

26th March 2020 at 5:06 pm

@Neil John

This is Jerry ” Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut. He’s a full-blown nazi. Here he is attempting to gather information, stasi-style.

Morona Virus

25th March 2020 at 6:08 pm

Ironic, Prince Philip was saying that he wanted to come back as virus to wipe people out and now his son has corona, and it is possible that it may have spread to his wife any maybe to him.

Gawd save er guvnor, and save us from that impending media circus. I do not think that I could bear it if the BBC started going on about how it epitomises the suffering of the nation and brings us together. The scripts are nauseatingly predictable.

Corona is bad enough without that. Presumably that too would be to “exploit” corona, for monarchist ends.


25th March 2020 at 6:05 pm

‘Britain’s chief bourgeois misanthrope, George Monbiot’ —

Wedding’s off then, Brendan? Actually, I think he’s just (justifiably) concerned that our destructive capitalist mode of operation is causing irreversible destruction to the natural world that will hugely diminish the life chances of future generations. I would call him a pragmatist and realist. BON really needs to get to grip with some environmental science.

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 6:18 pm

I think you’ll find that our current dilemma is due to a Chinese virus. But don’t let facts get in the way of your ideology.
The world copes well with mankind indeed mankind is in harmony with earth.
Oh and btw your beloved EU can’t control anything at the moment or even contribute anything….except close some borders, how funny that it wants to abolish borders!


25th March 2020 at 6:33 pm

So you don’t have an ‘ideology’, Jerry lol.

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 7:27 pm

Is that it?
Poor even by your low standards.

Andrew Mawdsley

25th March 2020 at 7:27 pm

ZP. Monbiot is just another over educated charlatan. A man who can afford to take the “tough decisions”. If he’d ever had a proper job, instead of residing in the hallowed halls of Brasenose college (and subsequently The Guardian), maybe he would realise that industrial progress and it’s benefits to the lower orders was a net gain. Of course there are negatives to industrialisation, but the uplifting of huge swathes of the developed (and developing world) to a decent standard of living should be something to celebrate without misanthrophy. Just a thought.


25th March 2020 at 6:01 pm

Can we please have more positivity on th is w eb s ite and less of this constant libertarian cynicism about the intentions of the state in this crisis time? BJ just announced that in the space of only one day over 400,000 people responded to their call for NHS volunteers. This country can be proud of that fact. It demonstrates that altruism and community are not dead and that there is still enough memory of our Christian culture left in these islands to spur us on to selfless acts of kindness (Matthew 7:12).

Mark Beal

25th March 2020 at 5:32 pm

It would be interesting to learn what those who believe Covid-19 is nature’s revenge on modern civilization think that the Plague of Justinian and the Black Death were nature’s revenge on – water turbines, eyeglasses and bond trading perhaps.

That said, if those who take Monbiot’s line about us having banished biology and reaping the rewards were to apply this line of thought to the trans issue, something positive might come of it all, after all.

Nah, it’ll never happen.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 5:01 pm

Hey babydoll.

Beta No’Zeal. I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but we don’t actually have democracy without free speech.

You edit on a site with mods.

I know it’s difficult for lame-o’s that don’t like getting insulted, but in case you aren’t aware, we ain’t got free speech on the site. Even tho you so proudly go around proclaiming urself to be some kind of free-speech absolutist.

I accept that this kind of thing is standard among leftists and other assorted liars, but if you is gonna be out a-whorin’ urselves for ads, then don’t be sad if people want to abuse you for the traitor that you are

Andrew Hirst

25th March 2020 at 5:47 pm

What are you going on about you nutter?

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 6:19 pm

We tolerate her, she’s only let out occasionally!

Asif Qadir

26th March 2020 at 4:39 pm

Try and keep up, Andrew.

Jerry “Vile personality” Oven-Kraut. ZP summed you perfectly, and this is your new nickname.

Why would you be speaking to Andrew about me? Why would dare comment on a rhread l started?

Philip St. John Lewis Davies

25th May 2020 at 12:05 pm

I am so glad somebody has issued a much-needed put-down to this possibly Arabic gentleman with an eccentric grasp of logic and English. His demented wittering really is unsettling and shouldn’t be allowed an airing in this public space. His ravings are beginning to sound threatening, as well: one of his recent ejaculations [I use the word in it’s old-fashioned meaning, but it’s current meaning may nonetheless still be applicable] was, ‘I’m still booked into St George’s for July, and have nearly a fortnite after that to find you and sort you.’ This might even constitute a threat of violence which ought to be reported to the relevant authorities.

Philip St. John Lewis Davies

25th May 2020 at 12:35 pm

I do so agree with you. I attempted to raise my own concerns about this ‘contributor’ in a brief comment, but apparently this has alarmed the editorial algorithms and so I’m being ‘monitored.’ That doesn’t mean that an actual hard-pressed Editor with furrowed brow is even now striving to balance the ethical scales with scrupulous judgement: ‘Monitored’ is the label on the office waste-bin – the receptacle for all the arbitrary rejections that increasingly qualify that banner of ‘Free Speech’ flaunting itself over the entrance to the Internet. Asif Quadir has the overbearing and arrogant manner of someone who was never ‘monitored’ in his entire life. And if the likes of him are free to peddle such entirely unhelpful and disturbing drivel, while I am relegated to the company of those who cannot be trusted with an opinion, then I can only take it as a gross insult and forthwith terminate any dealings with this speciously intellectual journal.

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 4:48 pm

I’ve heard from more than one source that the waterways in Venice are crystal clear and that you can now see fish swimming around. What a coincidence that this happens at the same time the Gondolas are parked up not stirring the silt Venice is built on.
The environmentalists have nothing to say on the Chinese eating virus laden food (how surprising), and indeed killing endangered species around the globe for magic erectile potions… Surely that’s a good place to start from if we are so overpopulated as they believe !
I was in the pub last Friday, it seems a dim and distant memory and it’s still only Wednesday. Let’s get back to the land of plenty wherever and whenever we want it, we’ve worked hard to get where we are and we deserve every luxury available to mankind.

Asif Qadir

25th March 2020 at 5:24 pm

Jerry Oven-Kraut.

You utter, nazi scum. As if you aren’t entirely responsible for it all.

I’m still booked into St George’s for July, and have nearly a fortnite after that to find you and sort you.

Oh, and btw,;most of us are completely repulsed by platitudinous Oven-Kraut creeps.


25th March 2020 at 6:06 pm

I doubt George Monbiot is in favour of the unsanitary practices of Chinese wet markets and/or the consumption of bats, pangolin, etc.

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 6:21 pm

You ‘doubt’… Like most leftists no criticism of Chinese barbaric eating habits seem to be forthcoming .


25th March 2020 at 6:52 pm

JERRY OWEN — Thanks for inflicting your vile personality on us all, Jerry. Thanks for your absurd, childish point-scoring at a time of national crisis. Reality transcends ideology – don’t you understand that? Is your own life so impoverished that you feel the need to attack complete strangers on the web?

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 7:28 pm

Again ZP
Is that it?

jessica christon

25th March 2020 at 8:05 pm

I saw a news report from Italy the other day – it waa catastroporn from start to finish but at the end telling us that at least on the bright side, there’s fish are swimming in the clear water – and they showed it too! Talk about a “WTF” moment!

Mike Oliver

25th March 2020 at 4:37 pm

It probably is the case that Covid-19 has demonstrated that we’ve been a little complacent about our ability to respond to such threats to our way of life. We clearly haven’t had a robust enough contingency plan to quickly implement.
But to suggest it reveals a fundamental threat to capitalism is wishful thinking from the enviromentalist lobby.
As regrettable as the likely death toll is going to be, it won’t be nearly as apocalyptic as is being forecast. The current official number of cases in the UK is just over 8,000. The actual number is most likely in the hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions. As we are only testing those presenting themselves at hospitals with severe symptoms (and celebs and Royals, apparently), we don’t know how many have it but are largely unaffected. We may already be well on our way to achieving herd immunity.
In the UK, approx 600,000 people die every year, around 60 million die worldwide. Many of the 424 UK dead attributed to Covid-19 may have died sometime this year without the virus.
This virus is not wiping out people in their prime like the World Wars did. In comparison this is much less of an existential threat to our way of life.
A much greater threat to public health could be a prolonged shutdown, that could cripple the world economy and stifle health funding for many years. By all means isolate the vulnerable, but the rest of us should be getting on with earning the money to fund our health system.

Jim Lawrie

25th March 2020 at 11:58 pm

I think it shows that China unchecked has been totally blase about its ability to cause such devastation and that a regime that has killed tens of millions will have to be brought into line. Leftists, including many of this parish, will have to question their unquestioning cooing and marvelling at China’s economic miracle.
I think Donald Trump is preparing to make China pay the price for the damage they have caused. If China manages to safely let go the tiger they now have by the tail.

This virus is a threat to China, not the rest of the world.

Chris Thorogood

26th March 2020 at 11:27 pm

Money talks. We would have to boycott their goods to get the Chinese government to stop supporting the idiotic idea that certain animal meat gives you special powers.
I don’t know anyone who’s prepared to keep their smartphone 3 years let alone pay double for one.

Darth Saddius

25th March 2020 at 4:31 pm

‘Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, says ‘nature is sending us a message’ with this pandemic and other recent disasters, including bushfires in Australia and locust invasions in Kenya. Of course nature is doing no such thing, because nature is not a sentient being, however much the new religion of environmentalism might fantasise that it is.’

I think here Mr O’Neill is making a similar mistake to that memorably made by the philosopher Mary Midgely when she famously criticized Richard Dawkin’s Selfish Gene theory writing ‘genes cannot be selfish or unselfish, any more than atoms can be jealous, elephants abstract or biscuits teleological.’ She seemed unable to understand the ‘as if’ nature of Dawkin’s use of the word ‘selfish’ in connection with the word gene*. Similarly Mr O’Neill seems unable to appreciate the ‘as if’ quality of the phrase ‘nature is sending us a message’. He says this cannot be the case because nature is not sentient. I agree that as far as one can tell nature is not sentient** however this does not preclude nature sending out messages in the form of signals which can be read however by everyone from shepherds to scientists however imperfectly. Such signals range from ‘red sky at night, shepherds delight’ to oxygen isotope ratios in ice cores. Pollen diagrams are signals. NOx level measurements are signals. Species diversity indices are signals. Evapotranspiration fluxes are signals. In fact science deals with a veritable tsunami of biogeochemical signals and messages from nature. Some of these signals do change in response to human activities.

One other point. Many of the authors who write here seem to hold to a view (or perhaps party line) that contends that anyone who believes that human civilisation should take more care of the natural world/environment is some kind of hair shirt anti-science mystic who wants us all to go back to living in mudhuts (I realise that this is somewhat oversimplifying but I’m trying to capture a gist!). Of course there are a minority of people who think like that but there are many, myself included, who are pro-science and technology (I had to be I used to work in a lab) but who also think we would be wise to be a teensy-weensy bit more careful with the environment which we can in no way separate ourselves from at the moment. The fact that you may find Greta a bit weird, or some millenial dressed as a tree blocking Waterloo Bridge irritating is, I’m afraid, completely and utterly irrelevant to the consequences of overloading various planetary physical systems both to you and more importantly your children. The writers here constantly extol the virtues of human ingenuity etc. I also celebrate these virtues. I do not see however why human ingenuity cannot be used to both improve life for humanity while at the same time preserving (for a whole variety of beneficial reasons) as much of the natural world as possible. The straw man argument against the superficial elements of environmentalism often made here is I would gently suggest both unhelpful and well, boring and unimaginative.

*Whether the selfish gene theory is correct broadly or otherwise or whether the unit of selection in evolution is at another level is an interesting area of scientific debate but not one I feel qualified to adjudicate on.
**Bits of nature of course are sentient. I myself achieve sentience on a regular basis after my second morning cup of coffee.

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 6:24 pm

Let’s cut to the chase, humans eating meat with diseases is the cause of this nothing else.

Darth Saddius

25th March 2020 at 9:59 pm

Just to be clear I wasn’t commenting on the source of Covid-19.


25th March 2020 at 10:08 pm

DARTH SADDIUS — Don’t bother, Darth. Jerry doesn’t listen to reason.

Chris Thorogood

26th March 2020 at 11:31 pm

Those meats have special powers though and the Chinese government supports that theory.

James Knight

25th March 2020 at 6:53 pm

“One other point. Many of the authors who write here seem to hold to a view (or perhaps party line) that contends that anyone who believes that human civilisation should take more care of the natural world/environment is some kind of hair shirt anti-science”

Horse shit. The problem is the likes of XR, Greenpeace, Monbiot and many others are a misanthropic throw-back promoting what is often superstitious clap-trap.

Consider Patrick Moore: a founder of Greenpeace, apparently the only one who was a scientist, and remains a strong environmentalists. But he left because he saw how Greenpeace became more anti people than pro environment. CO2 is the foundation of all life on earth. Yet now it is officially labelled a “pollutant”. That is just scientific illiteracy.

Jerry Owen

25th March 2020 at 7:31 pm

Anyone with any sense wants to keep pollution to a minimum. I don’t conflate environmentalism with alleged AGW as many do.
Dr Patrick Moore is my kind of environmentalist and speaks common sense… Now airbrushed out of Greenpeace folklore.

Darth Saddius

25th March 2020 at 9:56 pm

Serves me right for trying to do ‘nuance’ on the internet I guess. Once more unto the breach. There are many, many scientists in many different fields who are concerned that aspects of how our civilisation impacts on what in the trade are known as ‘eco-system services’ (e.g. pollination – worth a couple of hundred billion to the worlds economy annually).

This concern is separate from activities of the political groupings you mention. As I tried to point out they may irritate/annoy/infuriate you whatever, however the physical processes we are, to use an ‘au courant’ word nudging are to use H.P. Lovecraft’s memorable phrase ‘blind and remorseless’ in the ways in which they react. BTW CO2 is not ‘officially labelled’ as a pollutant. Like a lot of things in life we need the right amount, within certain limits, not too much, not too little.

Michael Roberts

26th March 2020 at 11:46 am

Officially be damned: CO2 is being treated as a pollutant. And, it is sheer naivety to apply the Goldilocks Principle to atmospheric CO2 as if we live in a fairy-tale world where magic wands make adjustments to the planetary air-conditioning system.

What exactly is ‘the right amount’ of atmospheric CO2; what is too much or too little? Despite the evidence that the natural world and our food-crops have responded very positively to the recent recovery in CO2 levels, the UN and its Green elves have decided, by an extraordinarily self-serving coincidence, that the atmosphere currently contains too much CO2.

The Green faction views the world’s human population through the same subjective Goldilocks goggles and has concluded that there are too many of us. How dare they! Who are they to decide such matters?

The climate activists and their supporters seem to be stuck in a repeating Soylent Green/Goldilocks scene in which the soy-lentil porridge is never just right. Since 1973, when the dystopian thriller Soylent Green was first screened, the world has improved enormously and we have no need for Soylent Industries or their revolting product. If they wake up on time, the Greens can celebrate the fact that 2022, the Soylent Green fantasy year, is in reality nothing like MGM’s version of the Green nightmare.

Darth Saddius

26th March 2020 at 4:20 pm

This is actually a reply to Michael Roberts post at 11.46 am. On my computer this website doesn’t seem to allow nested replies so apologies for any confusion.

You make some valid points about linguistic confusions which abound with this subject. CO2 is clearly not a pollutant in the way that say methyl isocyante leaking from the Bhopal plant was. I would be more than happy if people did not refer to it as a pollutant. However the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is clearly of importance for a number of reasons. It helps keep the planet at an equitable temperature and it is the raw material for the photosynthesis which keeps the bulk of life on this planet alive.

I would agree with you that there isn’t an absolutely perfect ‘goldilocks’ CO2 concentration (289.03 ppm anyone?) – but I did say within certain limits. Too low and the planet might be too cold for comfort and photosynthesis would be compromised. Too high and it would get a bit to ‘Venusy’ for my liking. This still leaves quite a broad range within which life can and has existed over geological time. However, the danger, if we are within this favourable band is not so much the absolute value of CO2 concentration but its rate of change. Geological and fossil evidence indicates that when the rate of change becomes rapid, the times become interesting in the Chinese sense of interesting times. A good example is the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. I think we would be wise to slow the rate of change to avoid the possiblity of recreating such an ‘interesting time’. This doesn’t mean all living in mud huts, worshipping trees and sacrificing tourist in wicker men. It is surely not beyond the wit of man (‘and women, Reg’) to combine best environmental practice, agro-practices, scientific advance and technology to both allow for a prosperous comfortable and better future for our descendants rather than trashing the eco-system services upon which any such future must depend.

It is to be regretted that this issue has got entangled in the culture wars but it has alas, and one has to look past the noise generated. I have no idea of the politics of each and every BTL commentator here despite this being a Marxist website. I suspect many are broadly conservative. I wold argue that it is natural for conservatives to be environmentalists in the best sense of the word. Conservative/conserve/conservation. Think of G.K. Chesterton and his fence analogy i.e. you find a fence, you don’t know what it’s for – do you destroy it?. I quote the relevant bit here: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think.’

Michael Roberts

27th March 2020 at 1:07 pm

Darth: thank you for taking the trouble to respond.

You are quite correct when you say that there is no “correct” CO2 concentration. A minor atmospheric gas that responds to insolation, temperature fluctuations and biological activity, does so on a daily and seasonal basis and on time scales of millions of years—and also varies with altitude—cannot be demonised because its level changes by 100 parts per million (0.01%); the conifers and their allies evolved when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 4,000 ppm (0.4%).

As you say, the CO2 content that best accommodates life on earth, starting with plant life on which the animals depend, varies within certain limits between which life responds in different ways.

At current levels, increasing atmospheric CO2 has a positive effect on photosynthesis and all life forms that depend on the resulting increased productivity of plants, including agricultural crops; this phenomenon has been widely confirmed. It follows that things are developing well for life in general as a consequence of the recent increase in atmospheric CO2 and that the upper limit of tolerance is some way off.

A lower limit of tolerance may not be satisfactorily determined on a planetary scale but must be considered on the basis of the few facts available to us. Current atmospheric CO2 levels, while low from a geological perspective, are not an imminent threat to life and will not become so until, as a consequence of the long-term trend that led to the catastrophically low level of 180 ppm a mere 12,000 years ago, CO2 levels go into decline once again. At 180 parts per million, photosynthesis was severely compromised, but with the sudden recovery in temperature and oceanic out-gassing of CO2 that occurred at the end of the Younger Dryas, the almost total obliteration of life was averted.

As a consequence of the Little Ice Age (very roughly 1450-1850 AD), oceanic absorption had again suppressed the atmospheric CO2 level to c. 270 ppm, a mere c.100 ppm above the likely extinction threshold. A drop in temperature followed by the consequential oceanic absorption of CO2 is the real threat to life.

Brendan’s point is fully consistent with this scenario. While, out of moral perversity, the UN and its supporters exploit the current health crisis to generate fear for political ends, the Covid-19 crisis gives us a taste of life in the carbon free world that Greens dream of. And, this nightmare is to be forced on humanity by our own governments on the say-so of people who refuse to state how the current CO2 content of the atmosphere is “wrong”, i.e. what are the magic “Goldilocks” parameters!

All life on earth lives in symbiosis: even Covid-19 cannot survive without its very reluctant human hosts and, despite being intellectually challenged, would not contemplate—were it capable of such—destroying the niche habitat that it exploits. The Greens, lacking the finesse of the coronavirus (if not its cold-blooded insensitivity to human suffering), focus on a single component of the biosphere, deny the reality that humanity is governed by biology and physics and propose that the human “footprint” may be erased.

Consider the analogy of plant-life: before the plants evolved, the atmosphere was devoid of oxygen, but with the arrival of the photosynthetic factory, which converted sunlight, water and CO2 to usable energy, oxygen was released as a by-product, changing the earth in ways that humans could never match. Was the earth a better place before it was transformed by the photosynthetic factory? Who would suggest an oxygen-zero atmosphere? So, why deprive the atmosphere of the added CO2 on which plants thrive, or diminish a resource that benefits all living things?

I think we’re on general alignment, but, let’s agree that G.K. Chesterton’s advice has many applications: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think.’


25th March 2020 at 4:25 pm

They think they would like to live in a film like ‘Land that time forgot’ just them and lots of animals. Just who is going to provide the infrastructure for them to live in this idyll doesn’t seem to cross their minds. Man is the dominant animal and has shaped earth to his use , but other creatures are hardly benign-plagues of locusts , that sort of thing.

W 1V

25th March 2020 at 4:10 pm

True that. Yet it’s also true that a more local less global economy would be beneficial, that more leisure time would please many people and drive creativity, and that burning less fossil fuels would protect against land loss and coastal erosion.
The rabid woke greens are definitely crazy.
The common sense greens, should they exist still, remain as relevant as ever.

Andrew Hirst

25th March 2020 at 5:51 pm

I have recently found that the more establishment greens like Sir David Attenborough and his facebook appreciation society, can get as rabid as XR when pressed on certain issues. They may not be your typical ‘anarchist who fell of their perch’ types but they do hate humanity with no less venom.


25th March 2020 at 7:54 pm

Its another version of the elect or the elite in the 17th century where some people believed God had specially chosen them. Present -day ‘elect’ feel that they just naturally are right and the rest of us are wrong. Of course being so special they also don’t like many people.

W 1V

25th March 2020 at 8:13 pm

As much as I like Attenborough (a lot!), it’s blatantly obvious he’s invested in a Malthusian paradigm. He really thinks population growth in Africa will explode and ponders some weird kind of eugenics from time to time. There are many, many examples of poorer regions where population growth dramatically falls with proper education (Kerala etc.).
So there is not a single shred of evidence we won’t be able to feed everyone in 2070.
Sea level rise is a big problem, i think, and changing weather patterns, too.
We should create massive fiscal capacity, near unlimited like we do in this crisis, to get off fossil fuels, but not at the expense but in favour of economic development.
So yes the batshit crazy greens that want to halve GDP and return to medieval times need to be called out.
The moderate greens should be listened to.
And Attenborough should stick to protection of the natural world and diversity and brilliant documentaries, not policy making, cause Malthus has been debunked over and over and over and over.

Jerry Owen

26th March 2020 at 7:11 am

Sea level increase has been around three inches in the last 150 years, sea level has fluctuated by several hundred feet and more in geological history. The weather you talk about is just that .. weather.
Even the IPCC will tell you there is no observable link with climate.
When Obama and Gore sell their beach front houses and move to them thar mountains, I would reconsider my position!

Asif Qadir

27th March 2020 at 1:35 pm

Jerry ” Vile Personality” Oven-Kraut.

You have the intellect of a small portion of Struedel.

Asif Qadir

27th March 2020 at 2:24 pm

…less charisma, tho.

Neil John

25th March 2020 at 3:41 pm

Great photo, empty non-smart motorway, and some twunt in a Corsa ‘owning’ the middle lane, brilliant!

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Deplorables — a spiked film