Nobody actually believes in climate change.

Back in the summer of 2019, an item of news dropped into one of my feeds and I felt moved to follow up on it. The story concerned former President Barack Obama paying something like $15m for a house (sorry, an “estate”) on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

For the sake of clarity, I must stress that I am not the slightest bit interested in the domestic arrangements of former presidents but I confess that I take a voyeuristic pleasure in learning about the opulent interiors of the homes of the rich and famous. I even, sporadically, watch YouTube channels about those billionaire homes in places like Manhattan, Beverly Hills or the South of France. Yes, I am into “property porn”.

So, when I learned that Mr. Obama ponied up a whopping $15m for this spread, I just had to take a further look. Copyright laws forbid me from reposting any of the photos here but you can search yourself and, trust me, chez Obama is every bit as lavish and well-appointed as you would expect it to be at that eye-watering price tag.

But something else I noticed is how very close it is to the sea which lies maybe 100 or 150m away at most. It’s practically a beach home! Surely the buyer cannot be same Barack Obama who launched the Presidential Climate Action Plan in 2013? Yes, it is he. How very odd.

This prompted me to engage in a bit more research. It didn’t take me long to find some other elite properties that stand resolutely on the strands of the soon-to-be-rising sea, such as this one in Palm Beach, Florida, which could be yours for a mere $12m. Or how about this one in Byron Bay, Australia which is so close to the sea that you could paddle your feet without leaving your front porch. Price on Request, which is realtor speak for, ‘You can’t afford it’. Still, if you can afford it or, if you’re the kind of “big swinging dick” for whom money is no object, you can always treat yourself to this $50m palace on Grand Cayman, situated right next to the azure waters of the Caribbean sea.

There are loads more of these palatial waterfront homes all over the world but I am unlikely to ever have the kind of money that will enable me to own one and, chances are, if you’re reading this, neither will you. These are homes that cost more than most people will make in their lifetimes but their market value reflects the fact that there are people out there who not only can afford to pay over those kind of sums but are willing to do so for the privilege of being able to open their curtains in the morning to greet the ocean.

But what’s that, I hear you say? Haven’t these people heard of the “climate emergency”? Don’t these pampered fools realise that their majestic estates are going to be swallowed up by rising sea levels in just a few short years? Yes, they have heard of climate change. In fact, they belong to the class of people (Hollywood luminaries, tech billionaires, successful merchants and the upper echelons on the managerial caste) who are most likely to be flaunting their green credentials and lecturing the rest of us on our inconsiderate and selfish lifestyles. They’re the ones who stand four-square with Greta Thunberg while she shouts “How dare you?” at poor people who are struggling to get to their pitifully-paid 9–5 jobs by bus or cooking a hot meal in their crummy apartments.

Yes, they know all about climate change but they just don’t believe in it. They say they do, but they don’t. It’s the behaviourial economics, stupid. If you want to know what people really believe, don’t listen to what they say but, instead, observe their behaviour, what they actually do. Judging from the behaviour of the property market, no-one really believes in climate change. Even if some multimillionaire was crazy enough to fork out millions of dollars for a luxury home that will soon be inundated, he would never find anyone to insure it. The fact that he can and does means that the insurance industry has also decided that climate change is not real.

And they’re right because climate change is not “science”, it’s a motif of class warfare; a modern piety the public repetition of which signals your suitability for membership of the global managerial and economic ruling classes or a loyal servant thereof. It’s a party badge, a banner, an article of faith for the votaries of a post-Christian religion.

Talk has always been cheap but now it’s completely worthless. I find it more instructive to observe what people actually do, especially with their own money and, when it comes to rising sea levels, I stand with Obama.



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