The Free Market Strikes Back
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Julie Burchill can't stand them. According to her new book, Not in my Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy, she thinks all environmentalists are po-faced, unsexy, public school alumni who drivel on about the end of the world because they don't want the working classes to have any fun, go on foreign holidays or buy cheap clothes.
Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, agrees. In an interview with Rachel Sylvester and me, he told us that the "nutbag ecologists" are the overindulged rich who have nothing better to do with their lives than talk about hot air and beans.
So the salad days are over; it's the end of the greens. Where only a year ago the smart new eco-warriors were revered, wormeries and unbleached cashmere jeans are now seen as a middle-class indulgence.
But the problem for the green lobby isn't that it has been overrun by "toffs": it's the chilly economic climate that has frozen the shoots of environmentalism. Espousing the green life, with its misshapen vegetables and non-disposable nappies, is increasingly being seen as a luxury by everyone.
It's nice to see that we have clearly reached a tipping point when it comes to the environmental movement. Sure, it's easy to be somebody like Al Gore and (claim to) live a life in balance with the Earth, and with carbon offsets, and all that rot. But while this rich environmentalists can afford to take major steps in order to (claim to) be more environmentally friendly, clearly not everybody can live that way.
The reactions that we see in stories like this, and the reaction to yesterday's issue in Germany gives me more hope that economic factors will continue to keep radical environmentalism at bay, and allow the public and private sectors to assume more reasonable stances in regards to conservation and environmental protection.