In his bestseller book on the medieval mind, “in a world lit only by fire”, historian William Manchester draws his portrait of the Dark Ages (roughly during 400 – 1400 AD after the collapse of the Western Roman empire and before the Renaissance). He describes it as “a melange of incessant warfare, corruption, lawlessness, obsession with strange myths and an almost impenetrable mindlessness.”
It is not a stretch of the imagination to see the remarkable parallels between our own “scientific age” and that of Europe’s Dark Ages. The “incessant warfare” of medieval Europe is now played out in the troubled Middle East since 9/11 (2001) and above all, in Europe itself as NATO and Russia lock horns in Ukraine. The corruption of scientific research, media and political institutions in the West is rife. Our lawlessness today is vividly exhibited in the chyron of a TV reporter in the mainstream media describing “fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting” with burning city buildings in the background which marked 120 days of riot, death, arson and looting in the summer of 2020.
Signs of The New Dark Age: What have we come to?
One does not have to look far to find the Dark Ages’ “impenetrable mindlessness” in modern times: a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court could not define what a woman is at a Senate hearing because she is “not a biologist”. The most peculiar of our “obsession with strange myths” is the believe in the “climate emergency”, aptly described by the eminent physicist Richard Lindzen as the “absurdity of the conventional global warming narrative”. Even as deaths from extreme weather events have been reduced by 98% over the past century, the West’s obsession at reducing CO2 emissions at any cost is one that might be easily compared to the medieval Church’s practice of selling indulgences. This was a writ issued by the Church for money in return for the remission of sin and a place in heaven. From issues related to energy and the environment and to race and gender, “a new theology is being formed and questioning it is tantamount to heresy with shaming and ostracism becoming the new burning at the stake”.
The modern dark age we are living in can be encapsulated by an energy-rationing top Green Party official in Germany who told constituents to use washcloths instead of taking showers as the country faced a natural gas supply crunch after imposing sanctions on Russia. Another sign of the modern dark age was provided by the head of Britain’s electricity and gas systems’ operator who told households this winter to prepare for blackouts between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays during “really, really cold” days.
Yet another indicator of our modern dark age is when Texas had a cold snap and hundreds of people died with the power blackouts in February 2021. The lack of investments in dispatchable power sector fuelled by coal, natural gas and nuclear generation over the past two decades meant that reliable power from these sources was sacrificed at the altar of the Green gods in favour of wind and solar power. Wind turbines and solar panels are our new guides to sinless power consumption. These “renewable” technologies promptly went out of commission when the sudden cold weather stopped the wind turbines and solar farms from providing their fickle power.
Since nothing sells like fear, the high church priests of Climate Alarm Central, the UN’s highly politicized “Summary Report for Policymakers” (based on work done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC)), warned us last month that “urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all.” UN chief Antonio Guterres is not one to shy away from cranking up the needle on the climate alarm meter. At last year’s UN annual climate jamboree held in Egypt, he thundered that humanity is on a “highway to climate hell”, saying the fight for a liveable planet will be won or lost “this decade”. On the publication of the IPCC’s “landmark report” in August 2021, he warned that “its code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable”, a pronouncement repeated by U.S. president Joe Biden. In his latest iteration last month, Mr. Guterres said “Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast…Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”
Like the alchemy, amulets and talismans of Europe’s Dark Ages, our favourite instruments these days are the “tuned” mathematical models simulating the climate – what physicist Steve Koonin calls the “many, muddled models” — and predicting the climate 50 to 100 years out with a certainty that defies common sense. Perhaps Voltaire gets the last laugh in reminding us that “common sense is not so common”. Meanwhile, our humdrum meteorological models of the weathermen can hardly predict the weather more than 10 days out. Like Middle Ages Europe, apocalypticism or the religious belief that the end of the world is imminent requires an Al Gore in our lives today. Unlike divining the Bible, his job is simpler, writing the equation “more CO2 equals dangerous global warming” and showing a misleading documentary proving so.
Glimmers of Light…?
Some recent news headlines give hope. Like the early shoots of the Renaissance spring that began to emerge in the 15th century Europe, the modern Western barbarism of an enforced energy starvation diet is being exposed and increasingly challenged.
The Daily Telegraph (Ross Clark): “The EU’s Net Zero plan is in tatters – and not a moment too soon” (29 March 2023)
Reuters (Riham Alkousaa): “Berliners vote down referendum on tighter climate goals” (26 March 2023)
Politico (Nicolas Camut): “Dutch pro-farmers party wins big in provincial elections” (16 March 2023)
Express (Natalie Crookham): “Staggering poll shows 93 percent oppose 2030 petrol and diesel car ban [UK]” (30 March 2023)
The editors of one leading paper put it like this: “The implausibility of a net-zero carbon energy future is becoming so obvious that even Europeans are starting to notice.” The shock news of Germany’s decision to block the EU-wide agreement on the combustion engine ban by 2035 is “threatening to unravel Germany’s three-party governing alliance, after the Green party accused its liberal coalition partners of gambling away the country’s [green] reputation…” The German government wants to replace this ban and permit combustion engine cars running on synthetic “e-fuels”. E-fuels are yet another unproven technology but, if somehow viable in the future, would at least preserve the country’s vaunted position in automobile combustion engines. That Western Europe’s reigning green ideologues could be blocked by the German car manufacturers’ lobby – one of the country’s industrial pillars and a major employer – seems to signal the victory of economic rationality over climate ideology in this instance at least.
The country’s green advocates received further bad news as voters in the Berlin referendum for a climate-neutral city by 2030 failed resoundingly as “yes” votes failed to achieve the 25% quorum of all eligible voters needed to make the referendum valid. According to critics interviewed by Bild, the radical climate project pushed in the referendum is “factually impossible” and “out of the question”, noting that “even the original 2045 target timetable [is] almost impossible to meet.” Even Berlin’s uber-green elites could not swing the vote against the average city-dweller sick of hot water rationing, dimmed street lights at night and shuttered swimming pools.
At the same time, in a parallel development, Italy’s new conservative government demanded that the EU water down a directive aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings, re-write plans to phase out combustion engine cars and questioned a drive to slash industrial emissions. In a bid to save Italian industry from the ravages of the EU’s “energy transition” plans, the country’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told those attending a Brussels summit that “The problem is that we cannot help the environment by destroying our industries.”
An equally seismic event occurred in the Netherlands where a political party BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) achieved a major victory in provincial elections on 15 March. It finished ahead of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy in the Senate. The Dutch government has plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by massively cutting livestock farming and buying up thousands of farms. The country is the world’s second largest food exporter with an industry worth over $100 billion last year. Green activists have targeted food production on the basis that nitrogen fertilizers emit nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The BBB victory calls into question the government’s ability to continue its extremist climate policies at the expense of its farmers.
Whether these glimmers of light in the West’s dark age today are real indicators of an emerging rationality or merely the dying throes of those who are fighting an invincible “green” juggernaut that will crush industry and people’s livelihoods, only time will tell. Most of the world’s population outside the “collective West” — accounting for 7 out of the 8 billion people living today — can only hope that they will continue to climb out of energy poverty with affordable power and fossil fuels to achieve their dreams of a better, more prosperous life.