As catastrophic global heating and the wholesale destruction of the natural world gather unstoppable, exponential momentum and the inarguable evidence of the imminent collapse of our one and only biosphere is there for all to see, the time for debate, policy initiatives, international conferences, pale-green box-ticking, ‘something must be done’ hand-wringing, ‘something will turn up’ feeble optimism and clarion calls for change has long gone. Personally, I have given up the struggle; after all, if anyone has to be persuaded that rendering the planet uninhabitable is wrong then they are far, far beyond the reach of reason.
It’s not as if I haven’t tried; on this website alone I have written numerous blogs over the years covering the issue in lots of different ways from lots of different angles. For example:
Humans, we have a problem
Look what they’ve done to my world
Tuppence a bag
What a woebegone world
For Ronald Lockley
And that doesn’t include countless pieces on the damage wreaked on Cardiff’s specific environment, or a multitude of various articles on other websites and in books and magazines. None of it has prompted the relentless juggernaut of insane global annihilation to pause for a nanosecond.
So I am beyond the stage of proselytising and pleading on behalf of this burning, battered Earth. Instead I am increasingly interested in those humans who continue to deny what is happening. What could possibly be their motivation? I don’t mean the corporate villains, the fossil fuel lobbyists, the oil industry fat cats, the despotic nation states built on the carbon economy or the billionaire media moguls and the politicians they promote – the motivations of these venal criminals are all too apparent: personal enrichment and clinging on to power. No, I mean ‘ordinary’ people without any particular vested interest in climate breakdown. What drives their death wish? Why are they hell-bent on collective suicide?
What is revealing is the way that climate change has become a left/right issue. All over the world from the USA to Russia, the UK to India, Brazil to Hungary, it is the rightwing who are the deniers of facts, the spreaders of lies and misinformation, the blockers of meaningful action and the defenders of the indefensible. Why? Isn’t the survival of life on Earth as non-partisan as any topic is possible to be? Where exactly do rightwingers plan to be ignorant bigoted scumbags if not here? I get that they generally don’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves, but do they not care even a little bit about their own children/grandchildren/descendants? And are they so irredeemably decultured, coarsened and brutalised that they are opposed to breathable air, unpolluted seas and rivers, the existence of other species and the odd pleasant view?
When even the sensible precautionary principle (better safe than sorry, there is no Planet B) gets rightwing bastards foaming at the mouth, whipping up outrage at the merest hint of so much as a cycle lane in their internet echo-chambers of proud ignorance and callousness, it is clear something more is going on. Taking the UK as a good example of a failed State that generates, and is propped up by, a large population of failed human beings, I can identify the following sub-groups among the deniers:
■ Americanised white trash: They don’t know what it means, but somewhere on the internet they encountered the word ‘Marxist’ and, as pea-brained ‘patriotic’ cannon-fodder for the super-rich, obediently took up the conspiracy theory cudgels to defend planet-trashing capitalism’s blind pursuit of growth no matter what.
■ Ostriches: Environmental issues are a real downer, calling into question today’s obligatory contrived pose of being perpetually ecstatically happy and deeply fulfilled. Rather than ruin the image it’s preferable to be blithely reconciled to a terrifying reality and stick your head in the sand.
■ Anti-intellectuals: The British disease of anti-intellectualism was once largely confined to playground bullies who made life hell for anyone caught reading a book or bar-room bores with gigantic inferiority complexes who considered any sign of intelligence to be a threat. 12 years of far-right Tory government containing men such as Michael “People have had enough of experts” Gove has allowed the grotesquely perverse inverted snobbery of anti-intellectualism to go mainstream. Climatology, meteorology, oceanography, biology, botany, geography, geology, statistics, physics and chemistry? Elitist snobbery! Some uneducated inadequate git with a chip on his shoulder knows better!
■ Mad dogs and Englishmen: The ludicrous, self-delusional myths and deep psychological problems of the British were perfectly exemplified during last week’s unprecedented heatwave. On July 18th a new all-time record temperature of 37.1°C (98.8°F) was set in Wales, beating the previous record of 35.2°C by an extraordinary 1.9°, and a new Scottish all-time record of 35.1°C (95.2°F) was also recorded, exceeding the previous high by a staggering 2.2°. Then on July 19th a new all-time English and UK record of 40.3°C (104.5°F) was reached, blowing the previous record of 38.7°C, set in 2019, to smithereens. As wild fires raged across England and people ran for their lives as their homes went up in flames, odious Conservative MP Sir John Hayes – chair of the extreme rightwing ‘Common Sense Group’ of Tory MPs and recipient of a £50,000 salary from an oil company for the last four years – branded people taking precautions against the highest temperatures in the history of these islands “snowflakes” and “cowards” who are “frightened of heat”. Meanwhile the Daily Mail blamed the Met Office for “spreading alarm and scolding us with doom-laden lectures” while the Daily Telegraph attributed the wildfires to someone dropping a cigarette, nominal Prime Minister Boris Johnson preferred to be photographed posturing in an RAF fighter jet rather than attend emergency Cobra meetings, and the idiotic, talent-free morons competing to replace him had nothing whatsoever to say about the single most important subject facing humanity. This is known as the ‘stiff upper lip’, the stoicism and fortitude that the English/British congratulate themselves on uniquely possessing – in actual fact it’s merely infantile irresponsibility, pig-headedness, narcissistic personality disorder, flight from reality and authentic, pathetic, pissy-panty cowardice.
■ Bible bashers: Genesis 1:28 “…and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Thus Christianity’s founding text gave carte blanche to humans to go on the killing spree that has caused the extinction of over 500 other species of animals in just the last 500 years and to cover the planet with 8 billion of us voracious, merciless, shitting machines. It will be 10 billion by 2050, more and more lethal viruses will leap across eradicated species to us, and the human race will reproduce itself to extinction – giving the religious fundamentalists the Armageddon they have always craved. You would need a heart of stone not to laugh like a drain…
■ Real men: Only poofs, tree-huggers and losers care about nature. Real men conquer and slaughter it. This is the preposterous, reactionary, gender-stereotyped undercurrent behind so much of the senseless rape of the earth: it’s butch, innit? It is manifest everywhere, from the gunning down of ‘big game’ on safari as a leisure activity and millionaires slaughtering ‘game birds’ on Scottish country estates for sport, to the propensity of certain strands of working-class men to impale fish with metal hooks for relaxation, steal birds’ eggs as a hobby and murder mammals for fun. For younger males at a loose end, this psychopathic nature-phobia is regularly expressed by mindless vandalism for no purpose other than its own sake. In Cardiff, for instance, every time young trees are planted in public parks they are smashed and uprooted by teenage boys within days. Ooh, how manly! These are the lengths the deeply repressed will go to in order to stop anybody thinking they might be gay.
■ Lazy slobs: The majority of climate change deniers in the UK are simply typical Brits, long accustomed to living off the spoils from the violent seizure, ransacking, enslavement and looting of half the world. In other words, they are just selfish, greedy, over-entitled louts. They aren’t going to stop driving cars or flying to holiday destinations. They aren’t going to fork out money to go green or change their lifestyles to help the planet. They aren’t going to reduce meat-eating or throwaway consumerism. They aren’t going to stop generating mountains of waste, plastic and filth. They will continue to desecrate wherever they go, they will not tolerate any checks on their convenience, they will carry on as if there were no tomorrow – and in so doing, they will ensure that there won’t be.
We have let the very worst of humanity take control: the thugs, the cretins, the liars, the thieves, the puerile, the wreckers, the hooligans, the wicked, the dysfunctional, the mad and the bad. As a result an unspeakable, indescribable, mind-boggling tragedy is taking place right now. A tragedy that will obliterate not only the future and all the generations yet to be, but also the past and all the magnificent achievements and creative brilliance of untold millions of good people who came before us. The only congruent response to this ultimate existential crisis would be to organise en masse and unleash the implacable wrath, grief, and vengeful single-mindedness that might crush these bastards and save humankind. But time is rapidly running out…
There is one small consolation: as is already happening, Mother Nature will increasingly intervene to correct the imbalances and do what is necessary – and wipe the human race from the face of the Earth.