In my garden right now the grass is growing, roses and fuschias are in full flower, figs are ripening and even tomato plants are still fruiting. This is happening just over a month before the winter solstice and with the sun above the horizon for barely six hours per day. The freakish warmth has already set a new Welsh (and UK) temperature record for November of 22.3°C in Trawsgoed, Ceredigion, beating the previous record of 21.7°C established in Prestatyn in 1946 (proper temperature recording began in 1875). Oh yes: man-made climate change is sure beginning to pick up a head of steam, shift gears and snowball out of control – to mix three metaphors in one sentence.
Not that I’m complaining; quite the opposite. I’m someone who cannot ever be hot enough. The moment the royalties start flooding in, I have a vague plan to move somewhere with the daytime temperatures of Timbuktu and the night-time temperatures of Rangoon – which means I’ll soon be hurling six pieces of matching white alligator hand-luggage into the back of the Lear jet and yelling “Kuwait City, Flight Lieutenant, and make it snappy!” Or do they chuck bloggers out of high-rise buildings there?
Better still, these temperatures mean I haven’t yet had to turn the central heating on, unprecedented for me so late in the year. Normally I’m huddled next to a radiator in five layers of clothing, or cocooned in my Slanket™ in front of a blazing gas fire – and that’s in July! This is good news: my next gas bill might even be payable. Well, perhaps not, I mustn’t get too optimistic. The energy “market” in the UK is after all, like all the privatised former public utilities, organised grand larceny on an epic scale. Jeremy Corbyn, who has made an impressive start as Labour leader simply by injecting a suggestion of mildly left-of-centre Keynesian economics into the UK’s overwhelmingly rightwing, suffocatingly narrow political parameters, should be arguing for the renationalisation of every utility not just the railways.
When delegates from around the world gather in Paris for the 2015 United Nations climate change conference later this month, only one outcome of the carbon-guzzling junket is certain: avalanches of bullshit to distract from total inaction. Anything else would be to question the insane doctrine of globalised hell-for-leather growth upon which the entire capitalist ethos depends. Indonesia’s burning; Pacific islands are drowning; the ice-caps are melting; China’s choking in smog; the US has permanent drought; the rainforests are disappearing; species loss is accelerating…and meanwhile the Tory regime in the UK has been busy INCREASING fossil fuel emissions while ditching every ‘green’ initiative painstakingly accrued over the last 30 years, from home insulation to the green investment bank. But never fear, the climate change deniers (that’s Exxon Mobil, Nigel Lawson, various fracking firms and my father) say we shouldn’t worry because it’s all a socialist hoax.
The world is up against an appalling human characteristic that urgently needs to be educated out of us. Our unique awareness of our own mortality has combined with our deep knowledge of death’s absolute finality and our grossly over-inflated sense of self-worth to make far too many of us greedy, cruel bastards who don’t give a fuck about the future and all the generations to come that are going to be deprived of a habitable, healthy planet. Why bother, when I will be long gone when the shit hits the fan? Who cares, when I won’t experience it? Let’s drill, baby, drill! We really are that superficial and selfish.
Because I’m actually very innocent, trusting and gullible, the insanity that rules our one and only Earth still manages to shock and upset me – but it really shouldn’t by this stage of my life, especially after all I’ve been through over the years with a wide cross-section of my fellow humans. In an attempt to finally knock this silly idealism out of me, I’ve lately been re-reading the magnificent If This Is A Man by Primo Levi (1919-1987), a sombre reminder that this is how we are, how we will remain and how we have always been.
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