Dutch Farmers and Fishermen Protest Green Edicts

My latest two posts have been about, first, the uprising in Sri Lanka against the government of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa due to his catastrophic decision to ban chemical fertilizer and, second, the brutal economic toll green policies take on the poor and people of color in California.  The motifs are two: the disdain in which political and green elites hold everyday people and the utter wrongheadedness of many green policies. 

California’s energy policies will both further impoverish residents of the state that’s already the nation’s poorest and do nothing to ameliorate climate change.  Sri Lanka’s ban on chemical fertilizer took food off the nation’s shelves, slashed exports, sharply reduced the country’s store of hard currency and caused food prices to skyrocket. 

What about any of that makes sense?

But the madness is more widespread than we thought.  The Dutch government, hounded by environmental activists, has, much like the government of Sri Lanka, announced

new nitrogen limits that require farmers to radically curb their nitrogen emissions by up to 70 percent in the next eight years. It would require farmers to use less fertilizer and even to reduce the number of their livestock.

The consequences of those limits are both dire and predictable.

While large farming companies have the means to hypothetically meet these goals and can switch to non-nitrogen-based fertilizers, it is impossible for smaller, often family-owned farms. The new environmental regulations are so extreme that they would force many to shutter, including people whose families have been farming for three or four generations.

Although a very small country of only about 17 million inhabitants, the Netherlands is, astonishingly, the world’s second leading exporter of food, trailing only the U.S.  That means that the sharp cutback on nitrogen fertilizer will score a trifecta - drive countless small farmers out of business, decrease world food supply at a time when the war in Ukraine has already had a drastic impact on food security and do nothing to address global warming.  Those facts are well known to Dutch farmers. 

Largely unreported by a complacent news media, some 30,000 farmers have essentially gone on strike to protest the government’s action.  They’ve blockaded highways and refused to supply stores with staples like milk and eggs.  Into the bargain, the fisherman’s union has joined the protests, blocking ports and refusing to provide seafood to markets.  Perhaps ironically (perhaps not) those actions will give the country and the world a foretaste of what the government’s green policies would accomplish – food insecurity and higher prices.

But if the Dutch government cares about any of that, it’s not apparent.

[W]hen offered the choice between food security and acting against "climate change," the Dutch government decided to pursue the latter.

Much like in California, the government’s edict is a lose-lose proposition.  It’ll ruin many small farmers, but do absolutely nothing to slow global warming.  In the first place, the Netherlands is simply too small a country to have much impact on the world’s climate, but even if it could, it makes no sense to attack climate change by depriving people of food.  Everyday people want improved living standards, not privation.  Why do I need to say that?

Unsurprisingly, the Dutch people stand with the farmers and against their elected representatives.

Yet the sympathies of the Dutch are not with their government; they are solidly with their farmers. Current polls indicate that the Farmers Political Party, formed just three years ago in response to the new regulations, would gain a whopping 11 seats in Parliament if elections were held today (it currently holds just one seat).

The news media?  They’ve utterly failed to question government policy.  That’s one reason we hear so little about the protests.

But while the Dutch people are on the side of the farmers, their elites are behaving much as they did in Canada and the U.S., and not just those in government. Media outlets are refusing to even report the protests, and when they do, they cast the farmers as extremists.

As is so often the case, everyday people seem to be far more sensible than do their self-appointed “betters.”

Every reliable poll of European newsrooms from Germany to the Netherlands show that climate change is a much more important topic for journalists than it is for ordinary people. It's not that average citizens don't care about climate change, but that they have the common sense to know that destroying their farm so the government's emission goals can be met in 2030 instead of 2035 will not change the planet's climate.

The conflict between We the People and the elites who hold power over us (and seem to consider it their inherent right to do so) has been simmering just below the boiling point for some time now.  Brexit and the election of Donald Trump are two prime examples.  The ouster of the Sri Lankan president and the Dutch farmers’ protest are the latest.  Climate policies had little to do with the Trump and Brexit phenomena but they now provide much of the ammunition for anti-elite sentiment.  General woke ideology on things like trans and race issues provide the rest.

Count on it to continue until elites wake up or, like former president Rajapaksa, find themselves looking for work.

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