In launching their now successful protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s gas hike, the French gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) have revived their country’s reputation for rebelling against monarchial rule. It may well foreshadow a bitter, albeit largely avoidable, battle over how to address the issue of climate change.
Macron’s approach may have made him a favorite of editorial writers, who see him as the new “sun king,” but he is far more disliked by his own people than Trump is by Americans. The new French rebellion parallels the revolutionary resentments that ultimately overthrew aristocratic and clerical privilege that allowed them to live in splendor while the Third Estate, the middle class, suffered.
Climate: Beyond hysteria
Macron’s policies rest on the notion of an on-going climate catastrophe embraced by media, the academy and the intelligentsia. Every time weather takes a nasty turn as it often does — heat waves, downpours, forest fires, floods — it’s often attributed to climate change.
This leads to the notion that we need to embrace climate “hysteria,” as one New York Times reporter suggested recently. This does not seem the best basis to create an enduring and workable policy. Like other pressing issues, environmental concerns need to be addressed in a rational and equitable manner. The mainstream media has become the biggest obstacle here, as evidenced by coverage of a recent report suggesting a huge economic hit from climate change. As President Obama’s undersecretary of energy for science, physicist Steven Koonin, suggests, these projections reflected only highly improbable worse case scenarios based on such things as ever growing coal usage and no significant technological improvement.