The environment evolution is based on unquestionable statistical data and on physical laws which have been elaborated and confirmed as centuries went by. Ecologists, them, are politicians. They are looking for pleasing electors or some economic interests which support them. They prefer announcements effects, unnecessarily alarmist or deliberately provocative messages to get attention and to be heard, and even to be invited to TV talk shows. Then governments have, or at least they believe it, to take into account their assertions, even when they are not based on anything, to take some of their proposals and, at the end, to follow policies which, sometimes, lead to the opposite of what was searched for. Then, in several cases, the ecologists became real enemies for environment.
A first example is given by the carefully maintained confusion between all the nuisances generated by human activity at the local level and emissions which are at the origin of climate warming. Under the pretext that diesel engines utilization was less generating these emissions, the French State, after discussions at “Grenelle de l’environnement” meetings, decided to satisfy ecologists associations, did grant new fiscal advantages to these types of vehicles. Ten years later, discovering the heavy damages to health caused by particles rejections, the State made a turnaround, decided to create a carbon tax which it will have to abandon after the “yellow shirts” demonstrations. Between that, it is estimated that 50 000 people died every year, due to the consequences of NO2 and particles emissions generated by diesel engines, i.e. much more than the lethality observed during the current outbreak. France has even been charged for the violation of European directives regarding air quality.
France has a tiny share in the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions as in the stock of these gas accumulated in the atmosphere, unlike the United States, China, Germany and soon India. The choice in favor of diesel was not only absurd but also deeply damaging for environment. Consumers, who had been incited to make this choice, have today all the reasons to be unsatisfied by circulation restrictions regarding these vehicles, even if they are justified.
Nuclear power stigmatization is carrying the same damaging for environment logic. At the beginning, it is pacifism, very powerful in Europe, which assimilates the military use of nuclear with its civilian utilization. Nuclear tests in the atmosphere are generating indignation in countries like Australia. But we must not be taken in. Nuclear power especially constitutes a threat for coal production since the Seventies, when people start to be afraid by oil resources exhaustion and when technologies which allow the exploitation at a large scale of natural gas don’t yet exist. Pacific at the origin, the denunciation of nuclear power is recuperated by ecologists in some European countries as Germany where some ones are not insensitive to the consequences of the closure of coal and brown coal, which is even more polluting, mines. France becomes a privileged ground for these movements and the stubborness of several governments will be necessary to resist to these pressures and to provide the country with a power system with a very low level of greenhouse gas emissions, along with giving to it a supply safety and an electricity price for household and enterprises among the lowest in the world.
But that tenacity has gone and Fessenheim nuclear power plant, under the pressure of ecologists and without any safety reason since the competent authority had renewed its operating authorization, has been closed. The immediate consequence is an increased recourse to thermal power plants and to imports coming from German coal power plants, due to the maintenance stoppages which have lasted longer because of the outbreak. Once more, this measure has been harmful to environment. This situation is not limited to France. At the European level, the Commission is still refusing to give financial supports to the nuclear industry and even to natural gas power plants in case of the conversion of old coal power plants which emit four to five times more CO2.
A similar scenario is developing regarding private vehicles. When substantial progresses have been achieved to reduce gasoline combustion, huge subventions are put in place to incite consumers to choose electric vehicles. These ones are reluctant because utilization conditions, especially autonomy, do not correspond to their needs. But very few of these who are supporting electric motorization are aware of the conditions under which batteries are produced and under which rare materials necessary to their functioning are extracted and of their eventual recycling. These subventions would have been much better used to home isolation because despite passed incentives and these ones announced with a lot of publicity in the 100 billion euro rebound plan, this policy favorable both to environment and to job creations hasn’t given any significant result due to the many obstacles put by the administration or included in the provisions. The project to put as a condition a reduction of rents for the owners to get the subvention constitutes a good example of what must not be done if the project is to achieve progresses in thermal renovation.
The choice in favor of electric vehicles had political reasons. The purpose was to send a message to a large public to address ecologist questions. But the target is not the good one. Professional vehicles and trucks, which not only emit CO2 but also particles because they are designed to use diesel, would have been a much more appropriate objective. Regarding them, the autonomy issue is not a problem. They have at their disposal areas which are easy to equip with recharging points. Regarding long trips, drivers have to comply with breaks, which can be used for the necessary recharges. At the end, it is a paradox to condemn air transport for trips which could be made by train when, in the same time, bus transportation using diesel has been liberalized and encouraged for the same distances, which besides that has contributed to weight on SNCF financial results.
The stigmatization of the utilization of cars in town has also had heavy consequences on safety. We hailed the diminution of casualties in July, partly as the consequence of the economic activity slowing and to the reduction of trips caused by the outbreak. But what was omitted to point out was that 40% of these deaths, i.e. 113 out of 291, were bicycles or scooters or motorcars users who have been dissuaded by local authorities to use public transportation for sanitary reasons or their cars to satisfy ecologists. This number is without precedent.
When concepts or arguments false or impossible to check but which look like being true are put forward, political myths are created which can have heavy consequences on health, on production tools and employment, and even on human life. Ecologist message is full of them. If Roland Barthes was still alive, he could have added several chapters to its famous “Mythologies”.