The Kerguelen islands are horridly cold and windy specks near the Antarctic, populated by a few score of French scientists and several thousand sheep. But to a leading British green group, Forum for the Future, it has enormous potential as an internationally-run penal colony for global warming sceptics.
The Forum’s founder-director is Jonathon Porritt, 67, Eton- and Oxford-bred Chancellor of Keele University, adviser to Prince Charles, and Green Party activist.  The Forum’s fancy for Kerguelen can be found in its 76-page report “Climate Futures – Responses to Climate Change in 2030”, written in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard, a company which should know better. This scenario, one of five, involves the naughty world delaying the reduction of emissions, for which we must all suffer. The document even conjures a fictional climate criminal and imagines him being deported to Kerguelen in 2028. He is Jean-Claude Bertillon, leader of the No Climate Change Party in Canada, “convicted of denying the existence of climate change”.
The report actually fantasises three penal colonies which, from the context, must be for for climate criminals. The other two are Britain’s frosty South Georgia and the South Island of New Zealand. Written in 2008, the document attempts to show how CO2 emissions will wreck the planet within a couple of decades unless civilisation turns away from the sins of consumerism and economic growth. As we are now almost half-way to the 2030 forecast date it is possible to get a handle on how the Forum’s timeline is working out, and perhaps to gain an inkling of any substance to the report’s assertion that our descendants will look back on us with the same disgust we reserve for the slave-owners of yesteryear.
The authors — and Porritt himself — long for an eco-catastrophe that would eliminate all public doubts about climate doom. Their manifesto says,
“Because of a chilling lack of confidence in our leaders … our only hope would be for an isolated, serious pre-taste of climate change to happen soon enough for the political and behavioral response to have a useful impact.”
This is probably wishful thinking, as Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future and chair of the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, pointed out:
‘I have occasionally fantasised about a low mortality-count scenario where a Force Six hurricane takes out Miami, but with plenty of warning so the entire city is evacuated with zero loss of life. The insurance industry in America would collapse because this could be a $50-60 billion climate-related ‘natural’ disaster. The industry wouldn’t be able to cope with that. There would be knock-on pain throughout the global economy, massive, traumatic dislocation. This would act as enough of an injection of physical reality, coupled with financial consequences for leaders to say: ‘Ok, we’ve got it now. This isn’t just about some nasty effects on poor countries: this is devastating for our entire model of progress.’ The response to that would be a negotiated transition towards a very low-carbon global economy that builds increased prosperity for people in more equitable and sustainable ways.’”
The report says its five scenarios are all possible, based on “a review of the current science” and “input from scores of experts.” In all five scenarios global warming and extreme weather are, of course, far worse and more perilous than even the 2007 IPCC report suggested. Here are some of its prescribed green correctives:
“Expensive, state-funded information campaigns reinforce the need for changes to lifestyles and aim to keep the mandate for state intervention strong. Inevitably parallels are drawn between this and the authoritarian state propaganda of the twentieth century.
“‘Climate crime’ is a social faux pas everywhere, but in some countries it is a crime to publicly question the existence of anthropogenic climate change or to propose actions that could in some way contribute to climate change.
“It is very rare to come across dissenting voices with any real power, but resistance to overly strong state intervention is occasionally violent. The media in some countries has been permitted to discuss whether the single focus on resolving climate change means that other equally important or inter-linked issues are being ignored.” (Report’s emphasis, not mine)
“in some countries a licence is now required to have children and these are awarded according to a points system. Climate-friendly behaviour means points…
“It is not unusual for governments to monitor household energy consumption in real time, with warnings sent to homes that exceed their quotas. For example, citizens could be told to turn off certain appliances such as washing machines or kettles or even have them switched off remotely.”
In 2014 Harvard luminary Naomi Oreskes forecast the extinction of all Australians amid climate woes. The Future Forum is more moderate, envisaging merely the abandonment of waterless central Australia, a “collapse of Australian agriculture”, and a “particularly toxic” combination of drought and recession.
In what the Forum authors call “alarming reading”, Australia’s Friends of the Earth climate experts predict the disappearance of Arctic summer ice by 2013, “almost a century earlier than suggested by the IPCC”. The actual 2013 minimum was about five million square kilometres of sea ice, and it was a bit more than that last year.
The authors let slip some of the green’s secret tradecraft, in terms of their projected advances in fostering ever-creeping state control under the smokescreen of controlling emissions:
“In most cases this has happened gradually, ratcheting up over time, with citizens surrendering control of their lives piecemeal rather than all at once, as trading regimes, international law, lifestyles and business have responded to the growing environmental crisis. And so in 2030, greenhouse gas emissions are beginning to decline, but the cost to individual liberty has been great.”
One is hardly surprised to find such a green-minded document citing Cuba as a beacon of hope for quality of life. But also Nicaragua and Bhutan?
There is the distinct possibility that non-western development paths could gain greater credence. At one extreme, the development strategies adopted today by Cuba, Bhutan, Nicaragua or Thailand could be the pioneers of future diversity. Here, new priorities, particularly around ‘quality of life’, have sidelined many aspects of traditional western development models.
Here are some snippets from the scenarios.
2009-18: Global depression and harrowing malnutrition are caused by high oil and commodity prices. In 2017, “authorities (are) warned to prepare for a ‘suicide epidemic’ in the US caused by the Depression.” [Reality: Dow Jones index now at record levels and oil prices relatively low.]
2018: Reunification of Korea with Pyongyang as the capital. [Great work, Kim Jong-un!]
2020: The year of no winter in the northern hemisphere. [Right now, the US and Europe are blanketed by extreme cold and snowfalls].
2022: Oil hits US$400 a barrel [current price: US$60], making world trade and air travel prohibitively expensive. The carbon price makes carbon “one of the most important and expensive commodities in the world today”. [In reality the carbon futures price has collapsed to about US$8 a tonne. Labor’s Rudd-Gillard carbon price was about $A23.]
2026: NATO has defined breaking the 2020 Beijing Climate Change Agreement as an attack on all its members, to be defended by military force.
2029: Planned permanent settlement of the Antarctic Peninsula, taking people from climate-stressed countries. Styled as the first true global community, its population is projected to be 3.5 million by 2040.
2030: Waterless Oklahoma has been abandoned. Texas becomes independent [so much for the Civil War of 1861-65].
2030: “The US president launches a re-election campaign with a populist speech entitled ‘What is the Point of the UN?’ after a debate in New York descends into factional chaos.” [Donald Trump last month beat the forecaste by 13 years].
Some predictions in the document are quite good, albeit easy ones. Try these:
2026: Supercomputer Alf-8 correctly predicts general strike in France. [Well, doh!]
2012-30: China is accused of lying and cheating on its emissions pledges.
The document’s part-hidden agenda is propaganda for the lunatic “simplicity movement” in which everyone returns to an idyll of backyard vegetables and disdain for material things, such as cars and toasters. For example, in 2022 “a general retailer in the UK announces that it has sold more wool for home use than manufactured knitwear for the first time in its history.” In other words, won’t it be wonderful when we all have to knit our own clothes. 
The authors also take for another run the failed Club of Rome’s 1972 “Limits to Growth” diagnosis: “Prices for raw materials are very high and getting higher, having major impacts on manufacturing processes and the world economy… Proposals have been tabled for commercial mining ventures on the moon… The world is in a deadly race to develop new processes before resources run out completely.”
In a passage obviously written by academics, the academics become the heroes of the future: “Communications like the ‘world wide internet’ have fragmented. A small group of academics preserve a global network, their dream to ‘re-unite’ the world.”
The report’s best prediction, undoubtedly, is for an upsurge in rent-a-bikes. I counted four of those yellow oBikes on my dog-walking path just this morning.
Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here
 South Georgia’s national day each September 4 is dedicated to the Patagonian toothfish.
 “The scenarios are based on wide research and consultation and a rigorous methodology.”
 In 2008, when the report was written, oil was at US$150 a barrel
 I tried knitting during train trips to school at age 14 but my outputs were never successful.
 A nest of “simplicity” people currently push the same line at Melbourne University’s Sustainable Society Institute. The green-infested Australian Academy of Science hosted a Fenner conference for zero-growthers in 2014, some of them advocating 90% cuts to Australia living standards.
* the headline on this article was changed several hours after publication for no better reason than this seemed a better one – rf