This is not, of course what George Monbiot actually comes out and says, that there’s no point in Battling Climate Change. But it is the implication of what he’s saying:
Some of the Earth’s largest land masses – Australia, Russia, the US, Brazil, China, India and Saudi Arabia – are governed by people who seem to care little for either humankind or the rest of the living world. To maintain their grip on power, which means appeasing key oligarchs and industries, they appear prepared to sacrifice anything – including, perhaps, the survival of humanity.
We have the collective action problem here.
The effects of the emissions affect all equally. Thus it is necessary for all to limit emissions for there to be none of those ill effects.
If large portions of the globe are going to carry on emitting however much we limit ours then there’s no point in our limiting ours. In fact, quite the opposite. Richer places will weather the coming storms better than poorer. Therefore if others are going to emit so that we know disaster will strike our best option is to emit like Billy-Oh to grow to be rich and thus sail through the problems more easily.
That they don’t limit emissions means we shouldn’t either.
This also comes in a milder and possibly less objectionable form, this argument. There’s still that debate about whether we should mitigate or adapt to climate change. We might think it more moral to mitigate – certainly, the entirety of the Green movement thinks so. But again, if all those other people out there are going to cause climate change anyway then mitigation is the wrong response from us. We need to be investing in adaptation, not mitigation. Building seawalls, not preventing the seas from rising because we’re simply not going to have any effect upon that second.
That is, assume that the bastards are going to boil us all. What’s our best reaction? Quite, it’s not making ourselves poorer by not stopping all from boiling, is it? Thus the insistence that them bastards are going to boil us all stops us from even considering mitigation.
Which isn’t what Monbiot wants to say at all but is the inevitable outcome of what he does say.