Streets rocked to sleep by the sea*

*From Under Milk Wood

I’ve got some bad news for Cardiff. Ever-accelerating global heating is melting ice-caps and glaciers and rapidly raising sea-levels. Unless this process is stopped and reversed as a matter of urgency, then Cardiff is finished. Before the end of this century the capital of Wales, my home town, will be almost entirely submerged beneath the Severn Sea.

This isn’t scaremongering; it’s fact, confirmed by every reputable international scientific body on the planet. The 2016 Paris Agreement, which aimed to keep the increase in world temperature to a maximum of 1.5°C, required that CO₂ emissions be cut by nearly 10% every year for at least 20 years for that target to be anywhere near achievable. Well, in the four years that have elapsed not one of the major industrialised nations has come close to meeting those pledges. On the contrary, global CO₂ emissions have remorselessly soared upwards to the point where the 1.5° target looks hopelessly unattainable and the scientific consensus now predicts that the average temperature by as soon as the year 2050 is likely to be a catastrophic 4ºC higher than pre-industrial levels – and that is before taking into account the consequences of the USA’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (the abhorrent and breathtakingly stupid Donald Trump obviously hasn’t worked out that his Mar-a-Lago mansion and resort in Palm Beach will disappear under the waves along with most of Florida).

Yes, within 30 short years, a mere one generation, Cardiff will effectively cease to exist. Those of us who are aware of this scarcely bearable reality are reduced to relying on a highly improbable sudden mass Damascene conversion to decency and sanity among the appalling criminals and madmen who run the world. Things are that desperate.

Areas (in pale blue) that will be underwater when temperatures rise as predicted

Drastic emergency action needs to be taken immediately. But given that Wales is controlled by the staggeringly incompetent and corrupt UK government of lazy, lying sleaze-bag Boris Johnson, responsible for truly ‘world-beating’ covid death rates and genuinely ‘world-beating’ economic collapse, we can be sure that there will only be hostile inaction from our English overlords. As the Tories concentrate on ‘outsourcing’ billions of public money to party donors, printing money we’ve been told didn’t exist over 10 years of austerity and cuts to prop up corporate fat cats, and setting up the no deal Brexit of their dreams to complete the transformation of the UK into a US puppet regime of unregulated mega-capitalism where any remotely ‘green’ measure is outlawed, it is clear that Cardiff must save itself.

Over three thousand years of Cardiff history have come down to this real and present existential threat – and only the people of Cardiff, the local council and the Welsh government can do anything to slightly mitigate it. Therefore the very first priority is for the Labour party in Wales (also the LibDems, Greens and even the Tories if at all possible) to recognise, acknowledge and tackle what’s staring them in the face: the utter wickedness and dysfunctionality of the failed British state. When that truth is digested and accepted, and the self-destructive addiction to the patently delusional idea that Britain is somehow benign is broken, the complete independence of Wales from the crippling shackles, mindboggling mis-rule and murderous cruelty of the UK must be organised and enacted pronto. Then the work can begin.

I propose the complete restoration of Cardiff’s natural flood defences: the great absorbent sponge of the West Moors, East Moors and Gwynllŵg sea-marshes that stretch from Penarth to Newport. Every single one of the useless and redundant ‘business parks’, ‘industrial estates’, link roads and miscellaneous hideous sheds that have been spread across the coastal plain over the last 40 years must be removed and the fertile, sweet earth below allowed to breathe again. The ancient drainage system of ‘reens’, ditches, dykes and sluices must be repaired, fortified and extended on the Dutch model. The native water-loving plants that once soaked up excess water must be re-established en masse. The Moors must become again a haven for the natural world and the protecting barrier between Cardiff and the sea. Expert teams of oceanographers, ecologists, biologists, botanists, hydrologists and geologists must be assembled from Cardiff’s various universities, all of which would be eradicated by rising seas, and devoted to the task of repairing the natural world that we have so wantonly trashed, while jobs and decent guaranteed incomes must be given to all who want to help with the immense demands of the vital project, from horticulturalists with green fingers through to labourers with shovels. And these first steps must take place in the context of a Deep Green and Celtic Socialist Wales freed from the treadmills of growth, consumerism, wage slavery, poverty, debt, inequality and ignorance; a Wales where the collective good trumps private advantage; a Wales that can join with other small, non-aligned, independent nations to point the way to a sustainable future for the whole planet.

Unimaginable calamity and untold suffering lies in wait for Cardiff if these words of mine are not heeded. This is deadly serious. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option. To carry on regardless in infantile denial as if nothing is wrong while Cardiff hurtles towards a precipice would be staggeringly complacent, cowardly and cretinous. It’s no skin off my nose – I’m old enough to be dead before the waters cover Splott – but anybody under 40 faces a terrifying future. I can only beg those with minds that haven’t been brainwashed and hearts that haven’t been poisoned to start the necessary revolution TODAY. Before it’s too late…

Map: Climate Central