Fossil Fool: Chris Hayes Wants to Kill About 5.7 Billion PeoplePosted: April 25, 2014
For NRO, Tim Cavanaugh writes: MSNBC host Chris Hayes is getting an alarming amount of attention for his latest effort in The Nation, a stemwinder arguing that the abolition of fossil fuels is like the abolition of slavery.
The argument may sound forced, but Hayes has a logical premise that goes something like this: Socrates does not wear sandals; a potato kugel does not wear sandals; therefore Socrates is a potato kugel. It’s also tricked out with quasi-erudition and broad claims such as this one: “Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia.” (Busy old fool, unruly Sun!)
Hayes, who serves as an editor-at-large for The Nation, manages to make 4,600 words feel even longer, with overflowing adjectives (“obvious,” “ungodly,” “brute, bloody”); lethal compound modifiers (“heart-stopping,” “full-throated”); cascades of adverbs (“immensely,” “basically,” “unfathomably” “probably,” “literally,” and even “downright”). There’s a to-be-sure paragraph guaranteeing the reader that Hayes is not making a “moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices” — followed by another 3,600 words comparing the enslavement of Africans and African Americans with the burning of carbon. (Hayes is coy as to what devices are in fact powered by these exotic carbon energy sources — about which more in a moment.)
So how does it make sense to compare the use of hydrocarbons with the enslavement of people? Turns out it’s the One Percent again, still clinging jealously to their privileges:
To preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth . . .
The last time in American history that some powerful set of interests relinquished its claim on $10 trillion of wealth was in 1865—and then only after four years and more than 600,000 lives lost in the bloodiest, most horrific war we’ve ever fought.
That’s more or less all there is to Hayes’s case.
The virtuous cadre of fossil-fuel “abolitionists” will have to compel these fat cats to give up their wealth. And like John Brown and Julia Ward Howe before them, they can take heart despite the immensity of the task, because the toll of human suffering is right before their . . . because the horrors of the vile institution are clear to . . . because the conscience recoils at the sight of . . . Well, it’s kind of hard to say what the actual societal gain of eliminating fossil fuels would be, because fossil fuels are the main reason modern society exists at all…(read more)
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