British Upper-Class Twits Saving the Planet

A new breed of environmental activist is on the warpath in Britain -- and "breeding" is the operative word. With names like Lily, Tilly, and Joss they sound like characters in a BBC costume drama, or the guest list for a society ball. They are the scions of the great and the good, and they have nothing better to do than save the planet.

The class-obsessed British media has got itself into quite a lather over last week's protest at Stansted, London's third airport. The protest itself was little more than a stunt, although it raised troubling questions about security at the airport when around 50 protesters cut through the perimeter fence, causing hundreds of flights to be canceled or delayed.

What got the media so excited was the fact that these weren't your average extremists. They were variously labeled as "middle-class militants"  (middle-class in the British vernacular being shorthand for educated and well-off), "designer demonstrators," and "the bolshie Barbour brigade" (Barbour is a brand of outdoor clothing favored by the country set).

Joss Garman, 23, who founded Plane Stupid, the group that staged the protest, claimed the protesters were "not the sort of people who usually go in for activist stuff," and were "educated, scientifically literate, passionate and eloquent." His point is clear: we are supposed to take these activists seriously because they are "clever" and "well-brought-up." How could they be wrong?

They've certainly had as good an education as money can buy, and they're clearly passionate. Tilly, 21, explained: "If we fail, it will be the people on this runway, and our children, who'll live with the consequences." Lily, also 21, said: "Being arrested is a terrifying prospect, but not nearly as terrifying as the threat of climate change."

But "scientifically literate"? Are any of them remotely aware that there remains not a shred of evidence to suggest that the modest warming of the last hundred years or so is outside the natural range of variation in the earth's temperature, or is man-made? Or that we're entering a second decade without any increase in warming, and that recent trends don't come close to matching the predictions of the alarmists?

(You'll find comparisons between actual temperature records and the various predictions made by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change here. Doubtless this will provoke the usual excitement in the comments, so if you know different be sure to post the relevant links there. While you're at it you might want to email the IPCC, Al Gore, and the world's major scientific organizations, who between them have failed to produce evidence to support their theories despite having combined budgets running to hundreds of millions of dollars, and tens of thousands of staff.)

You can be passionate about science, but the passion Garman is talking about is passion in place of science. Like most extremists, climate change activists are driven in part by a fear of genuine science that borders on superstition, and by a susceptibility to group-think that's little short of mass hysteria. The "posh kids" of Plane Stupid suffer from special pathologies of their own: guilt over the worthlessness of their privileged lives, the urge to do something "important," and the thrill of casting off the shackles of polite society by breaking the law, just a little bit. ("Mummy! I spent the night in a cell! With real criminals!")