Wednesday, 10 November 2021

So, over the past two weeks we have had COP26 in Glasgow where a bunch of incredibly wise and intelligent people have been discussing how
we all need to do X, Y and Z to overcome the most challenging problem of our time – the climate crisis. Among these wise and intelligent people is Ursula Von de Loyen who flew 31 miles by private jet, because clearly, she has never heard of taxis. And then there is Jeff Bezos – the man who recently took a joy ride in space and released God knows how many tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in the process. Some people have suggested that we shower less in order to reduce our carbon footprint. A smarter person might suggest the most effective way of tackling the climate crisis would be to lock these rich people up. Especially, when you consider 50% of the world's flying emissions come from 1% of the population.

The climate crisis is unquestionably the biggest threat that currently faces our species, and this lot are telling us, we need to throw a bucket of water on the fire as the world burns. But don't worry, the market will take care of the rest... And, of course, there are still climate change deniers out there, arguing we don't really need to do anything at all, which is interesting, considering the breathtaking denial of reality this requires! Would they, for example, deny CO2 has risen from 278 parts per million to 417 parts per million since the industrial revolution? Would they deny CO2 is a greenhouse gas? Because if they do not deny either of those points, which they can't, then they agree climate change is real, and they probably need to seek psychiatric help for their cognitive dissonance.

I think it's good to hear Prince Charles is very keen on defeating the climate crisis. If only he and his family members were as keen to avoid getting on a plane as Prince Andrew is, but the less said about that, the better... 

I'm hearing that Camilla was appalled to hear Joe Biden breaking wind at COP26. Yes, really. But this little outburst pales in comparison to the 397 million tons of CO2 the US has pumped into the atmosphere – which is almost twice as much as China, which has a population nearly five times bigger. It's important to consider, American wealth was not just built on slavery and imperialism, it was also built on climate destruction. America, and other western countries, built their wealth with a process of industrialisation which they are now denying to other countries. Remember this, the next time they criticise the current world leader in green technologies – which is China.

The simple truth of the matter is western nations owe poorer nations a great deal because not only have they taken more than their fair share of the world's resources, they've also hugely damaged the climate and left them with nothing to show for it. You could easily make an argument for compensating these countries. At the very least, we need to be world leaders in tackling the problem we created. We need to take by far the biggest hit economically. After all, we'd only be sacrificing wealth we would never have accrued, if we'd been building our economies in a responsible and sustainable manner.

The climate crisis must be the absolute number one priority for every nation. Preventing catastrophic change is even more important than defeating poverty, because if we don't do it, we might not have a habitable planet much longer. And if you are one of the older, richer people who doesn’t fancy sacrificing a bit of your wealth, then your selfishness is breathtaking and history will not remember you kindly. I will certainly be making sure my children know not to forgive those who share this attitude.

The political establishment has no answers

I just can't help thinking of the absurdity of market-based solutions when market forces created this mess in the first place. A corporation is not going to prioritise the environment over profit because you ask them really nicely to draw up a plan to reduce their carbon emissions. If that's our approach, then humanity truly is doomed. What should have been agreed is a global green new deal.

While net-zero carbon would be a step in the right direction – it would not be enough – because we need  to end our dependency on carbon. And the target date of 2050 for achieving net-zero carbon is simply too far in the future. The numbers don't add up.

But, of course, the politicians don't care. This was never about finding meaningful solutions, it was always about grandstanding, blaming China, and placing the burden on you, rather than the 20 mega-polluting companies which are behind 1/3 of the world's carbon emissions. Driving an electric car is not going to put a dent in that. (And I'm not saying we shouldn't do better on a personal level, I'm simply that it won't be enough.)

The reality is world leaders had a choice between socialism and extinction and they chose extinction because they thought it would be better for the economy.

Climate inaction is a crime against humanity. The biggest crime against humanity in our history. Not only should meaningful targets be legally binding, but politicians and business leaders who fail to implement them should be imprisoned.

If a weapon was creating a level of death and destruction comparable to the climate crisis, we'd have no problem understanding the seriousness of the crime. But because this is happening through climate mismanagement, it's almost like we accept this as being part of the natural order, but there is nothing natural about this.

One thing people don't seem to appreciate is this will create an awful lot of refugees. We are not only talking about coastal cities ending up under water. We are talking about one fifth of the planet becoming too hot to be habitable. We are talking about droughts and famines and economic collapse and quite possibly warfare.

Just think about how mad we get now when refugees arrive from the latest country we bombed. Now imagine how much worse things could get and how all of this is entirely preventable. If you really don't like refugees coming to your country, then bloody well stop creating them!

It might already be too late, but we have one last chance to act.

Even if we hit our CO2 target, 70% of the world's coral reefs will die. If we fail, 100% will die. What right do we have to destroy ecosystems like this? 15,000 scientists have declared a climate emergency, and you don’t respond to an emergency 30 years from now. You do it immediately. You drop everything else.

Boris Johnson said we were 5-1 down at half-time and then he proceeded to score a couple of own goals for good measure. For example, he will tell corporations to draw up plans to reduce their carbon footprint, but he won't do anything to make them follow through on their plans, let alone ensure they will work.

The very least we need is a robust opposition holding the government to account, but what chance do we stand when even the opposition party in the UK is distancing itself from its own Green New Deal?

The frustrating thing is, a global green new deal wouldn't just be fantastic for the environment, but also for job creation. Far from impoverishing us, it could actually stimulate economic activity and lift a lot of people out of poverty. But even if it didn't. Even if it created more poverty, it would still be worth doing because it is the only way.

The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs is coming and half-measures are not going to stop it.

The simple fact of the matter is, we need to tear up our current economic model to defeat this, but we are governed by extremists who think the accumulation of capital comes before the preservation of human life. And the people are rising up.

We've had over 100 climate demonstrations in the UK and many more around the world. Glasgow saw the largest protest since Stop the War in 2003. Young people are desperate and older generations are not listening. They are dumping future pain onto us to alleviate their own pain today. And it was a pain they chose to cause.

And even worse, they are cracking down on anyone who challenges them.

Aaron Bastani was talking on Twitter about how police kettled a large number of protesters for hours on end for no reason and threatened him with arrest when he questioned why.

The establishment does not want to be questioned. It wants us to blindly accept whatever fate it decides for us. And it wants us to treat them like heroes for failing. The number of leaders patting themselves on the back at COP 26 was vomit-inducing. If all of them were doing as brilliantly as they think they are, we would not be in this mess.

The planet has already warmed by 1.2C and our current trajectory will take us up 2C by the end of the century. We could well pass a tipping point that would take us 1000s of years to reverse, and the sad truth is, humanity might not be around by the time the planet has self-healed.

The billionaires seem to know this, which is why Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are currently building spaceships to get them to Mars, instead of just fixing this planet. I guess cleaning up the environment doesn't sound as sexy as being a space cowboy.  It's the world's most expensive dick-sizing contest and they are both losing. The entire world is losing.