Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

Explaining the concept of value to George Monbiot. Again.

11 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. “On the outskirts of Sheffield there is a wood which, some 800 years ago, was used by the monks of Kirkstead Abbey to produce charcoal for smelting iron.”

    If George Monbiots existed 800 years ago they’d have been against it.

    Incidentally, we owe a great deal of thanks to medieval monks and their work in agriculture and technology. A lot of modern discourse has been simplified to RELIGION BAD! SCIENCE GOOD! But there wouldn’t have been any science or learning in the dark ages and medieval Europe if not for the Church.

    “For local people, Smithy Wood is freighted with stories.”

    I bet it is. Probably also known to locals as Nooky Woods.

    “Among the trees you can imagine your way into another world.”

    I seem to remember George’s Middle Earth whimsy ran afoul of some traveller gentlemen a couple of years ago in a little drama reminiscent of the Scouring of the Shire, except that time the hobbits had to be rescued by Her Majesty’s constabulary. Is he still playing at talking to Ents?

    “The application to plant a motorway service station in the middle of it, wiping out half the wood and fragmenting the rest, might have been unthinkable a few months ago. No longer.”

    Would an ironworks have been OK?

    “But this is the way it’s going now: everything will be fungible, nothing will be valued for its own sake, place and past and love and enchantment will have no meaning. The natural world will be reduced to a column of figures.”

    Does George have a plausible alternative to trying to find some rational basis on which to balance human needs and conservation? Or is every old tree and blade of grass sacred now? Should we return to animism?

    “In his interview with the Guardian a few weeks ago, George Lakoff, the cognitive linguist who has done so much to explain why progressive parties keep losing elections they should win”

    It’s all false consciousness you see. The proles have been conned into thinking they want houses and electricity and motorway service stations, and not to be helots of the progressives with their sticky fingers and endless trendy psychodramas. But what they really want is noble poverty and old trees and Ed Milliband.

    “As Lakoff points out, you cannot win an argument unless you expound your own values and re-frame the issue around them.”

    Hence political correctness and the global warming scare.

    “For instance, the financial case for new roads in the United Kingdom, shaky at the best of times, falls apart if you attach almost any value to the rise in greenhouse gases they cause. Case closed? No: the government now insists, in its draft national policy statement, that climate change cannot be taken into account when deciding whether or not a road is built.”

    Does George have any evidence to suggest the Earth’s climate will be adversely affected if we build a new road in Wales? If so he might have a point.

    If not, this is like complaining the government doesn’t take fairies, dragons, and Tom Bombadil into account when deciding whether to build a new road.

  2. Steve – superb analysis. What the article (Monbiot’s) boils down to is a reiteration of the Brechtian maxims that the people don’t know what’s good for them but enlightened people like Monbiot and his ilk do. Profoundly depressing stuff.

  3. What about the amenity value of the view of almost any beautiful hill or vale in England unblighted by bird chopping eco-crucifixes (as Delingpole charmingly, and rightly calls them)?

    Seems not to have been taken into account, especially considering the negative added value of their “output”… makes a bad policy even more fucking disastrously insane.

  4. The Other Bloke in Italy

    Steve, that was an excellent fisk.

    A year or so ago, there was an exhibition of photographs of the western Tuscany village where I live, all part of our annual festa.

    Some of the photos were the better part of a century old. They showed the woods virtually cleared for half a mile around the village, up, down and across the hillside.

    Now, the woods and bushes come right into the village.

    The reason, of course, is the installation in the 1950s and 60s of electricity and town gas, meaning that the timber is preserved and managed, with only small amounts burned for heat in the winter – everyone loves a flame, and stone houses are hard to heat.

    The woods are hoatching with birdlife, deer and boar.

    It cannot be pointed out often enough that the best protection for the environment is modernity.

  5. Van_Patten – thank you. Yes it does rather give the game away when Georgie says

    “George Lakoff, the cognitive linguist who has done so much to explain why progressive parties keep losing elections they should win

    What do those pleb voters know? Thankfully they have a cognitive linguist around to helpfully explain how they should have voted.

    Who are you going to trust? A bearded lefty academic at the University of California, Berkeley? Or the evidence of your own subjective experiences?

    Bloke In Italy – Well, y’see, windfarms are different. They’re based on (allegedly) good intentions. And isn’t that what really matters?

    The Other Bloke in Italy – Grazie 🙂

    Yes, even in our lifetimes, capitalist societies have made amazing strides in improving the environment. When I was a lad, the air quality in towns and cities was palpably worse than it is now. The rivers were considerably more polluted. We used lead in petrol. Many homes still had coal fires. People thought nothing of dropping litter in the streets.

    As we’ve cleaned up our surroundings, a funny thing has been happening to environmentalists. Instead of welcoming our progress, they’ve become ever more shrill and demanding.

    When Western capitalist societies failed to destroy Gaia and the 1970’s doomsday predictions of global starvation, mass extinction, acid rain, ozone depletion and cats and dogs living together by the year 2000 turned out to be laughably wrong, they segued into convincing us that an invisible, colourless, odourless, naturally occurring trace gas would kill us all unless we shut down industrial civilisation forthwith.

    The genius of “climate change”, unlike more tangible ecological concerns, is that it’s damn near impossible for us, once committed to the fight, to declare victory and go home. Just as the “war on terror” is a well intentioned but ill-conceived crusade against a tactic rather than clearly identified enemies, the war on climate change is a Quixotic fight against a nebulous abstraction, for climate stasis is physically impossible so long as our planet orbits an active star.

    It’s almost as if they’re not interested in protecting the environment, but want an excuse to militate for socialism.

    Surely not?

  6. None of this, of course, explains why local residents should welcome a service station in place of Smithy Wood. I’d like to see some of the commentators on here go there & lecture ’em on the matter, perhaps throwing in a jibe or two about how opposition to such a woeful scheme makes one nothing less than a gaia-worshipping moonbat.

    Nor does it especially justity Paterson’s pisspoor biodiversity-offsetting wheeze, and its application to established woodland habitats.

  7. Mendip_Native – NIMBYism being our national pasttime, it’s a wonder we ever got motorways built in the first place.

    Do the local residents own that wood? If not, it doesn’t really matter what they think, does it?

  8. What a thoroughly meaningless term “progressive” is. If George Monbiot (who appears to want to reintroduce the hippogriff to Croydon) is progressive then I should like to know what conservatism or even regressivism is.

    The very concept of there being a set of values which are ‘progressive’ is rooted in historicism. Since Popper et alia exploded the latter as a concept, we can only assume that people who refer to the former are self-regarding idiots.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    These self-appointed experts are not going to convince people just by lecturing them more slowly. Especially as they are so full of sh!t. Global Warming is a great example. And here’s another:


    They lie to us. So why should we put a filling station in the middle of this wood? The lying [email protected] say we shouldn’t. So it is almost certainly a good idea.

  10. This is all nonsense. British people have always placed a high value on “unspoiled” countryside : otherwise they would have never left the cities to live in once leafy suburbia accessed at first by public transport.The alternative was the towns described in Engels’ the Condition of the Working-Class which, no doubt, soul dead “practical people” of the time believed was an impossibilist attack on the latest in modernity. Towns like London were still killing people with air pollution until the post-war Clean Air Acts..No wonder they wanted to commute to somewhere more “natural”.But now the car has followed them and British air pollution is more widespread but,apparently, nearly as deadly
    Destroying ancient woodland, where some people were quite possibly conceived ,is going to set you against some very deep conservative instincts. Since most of you could be classed as conservatives, this is stupid.

  11. DBC Reed – “Destroying ancient woodland, where some people were quite possibly conceived”

    You know your parents best.

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