Trying to Stay Sane in a World of Rapidly Accelerating Climate Collapse


Watching a wildfire: how do we deal with the reality of climate collapse and the failure of our governments to take the necessary action to ensure that the planet remains habitable?

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Some days are better than others. Some days, the dread, the anger, the sadness don’t begin until some time after I’ve woken up, but it never takes long, to be honest, until I remember that I’m living in a dying world.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I can only suggest that you’re not really paying attention to what’s happening. For at least 35 years, climate scientists have been warning, based on a forensic analysis of observable reality, that our obsession with burning fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) has been supercharging the atmosphere with greenhouses gases (carbon dioxide, methane and others) that are increasing temperatures worldwide to an alarming degree.

In 1992, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), drawing on the expertise of climate scientists worldwide, first began warning about the danger of ever-increasing greenhouse gas production, but it wasn’t until 2015, in Paris, that they were able to secure a commitment from most of the world’s governments to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”, and to pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

The Paris Agreement was meant to be legally binding, but was fundamentally unenforceable, as no International Climate Court exists to enforce compliance, and, by and large, the obsession with burning fossil fuels has continued unabated. As NASA explain in a briefing on its website, “Half of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the last 300 years has occurred since 1980, and one quarter of it since 2000.” In addition, “Methane concentrations have increased 2.5 times since the start of the Industrial Age, with almost all of that occurring since 1980”, and the most recent news is no less alarming.

As the world has continued to heat up, after the Paris Agreement, with 2016 a year of particularly monstrous heat, the IPCC increasingly recognised that the 2°C target was redundant, because “crossing the 1.5°C threshold risks unleashing far more severe climate change impacts, including more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall.” However, by September 2018, the IPCC was so alarmed by the lack of progress that they issued a report warning that we had just 12 years left (until 2030) to keep the 1.5°C dream alive. As their updated Paris Agreement page explains, “To limit global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030.”

The IPCC’s warning alerted me to the severity of the crisis, unparalleled in human history, and helped to kick-start movements of resistance (Greta Thunberg’s School Strikes for Climate, and Extinction Rebellion) that succeeded in driving the climate crisis up the political agenda. National and local governments declared climate emergencies, but, as with the Paris Agreement, largely failed to follow up with any meaningful action to stem the continuing rise in emissions.

Meanwhile, just as forecast, temperatures have continued to rise. The last nine years (2014 to 2022) have been the hottest years recorded since records began in the 19th century, but as governments continue to preside over ever-increasing emissions, and, if concerned at all, seem to regard 2030 as some sort of last-minute deadline to be addressed at one minute to midnight on December 31, 2029, the reality of climate collapse is happening much quicker than expected.

We don’t have until 2030 to effect major systemic change

The devastating events of last summer, and even more so this summer — life-threatening heatwaves and droughts, vast self-igniting wildfires and unprecedented flooding — have made it clear that any notion we may have had that 2030 was still a viable deadline for meaningful change has been irrevocably shattered. If governments have been comforting themselves that they still have seven years to cobble together some sort of last-minute plan, the last two summers really ought to make them question how much of a viable planet for human existence will still be in place just two or three years from now.

What we’ve been seeing last summer and this summer is that, because of the superheating of the atmosphere, normal weather circulation patterns — in other words, patterns that have been more or less stable for hundreds or thousands of years — are suddenly collapsing, creating heat domes of unprecedented ferocity, testing the limits of human heat endurance, creating deserts out of formerly fertile farmland, and also creating the conditions for self-triggering wildfires without any external ignition.

In an equally unprecedented manner, this rapid climate collapse is creating ferocious and ever more frequent storms and hurricanes, bringing torrential rainfall, not only leading to the inundation of vast areas of previously fertile farmland, but increasingly to horrendous flash-flooding from which no country seems to be immune.

If you happen to live somewhere that you haven’t experienced any of the above this summer, then you can count yourself as extremely fortunate, although it is, to be blunt, only a matter of time before climate collapse catches up with you, because nowhere is safe, and the knock-on effects will, in any case, affect all of us sooner rather than later — through food shortages and water shortages, for example, both of which threaten the very basis of civilisation.

Beyond these visible signs of climate collapse, other deadly thresholds are also being breached. This year, the oceans, which have been functioning as a carbon sink throughout the profligate increase in our greenhouse gas emissions, were finally overwhelmed. Between 1971 and 2018, as the Guardian explained in May, the oceans took in so much heat that it was “the equivalent energy of more than 25bn Hiroshima atomic bombs”, but this year the rise in ocean heat has shattered all previous records, and given that the oceans are “a vital climate regulator”, because they “soak up heat, produce half Earth’s oxygen and drive weather patterns”, as the BBC explained last month, it’s unsurprising that, as the Guardian explained in a recent editorial, “high sea temperatures over recent months have led scientists to reiterate their warnings that we are moving fast into uncharted, dangerous territory.”

In addition, and related to the above, sea ice is also melting at an unprecedented rate. In June, scientists warned that it was “now too late to save summer Arctic sea ice”, noting also that “preparations need to be made for the increased extreme weather across the northern hemisphere that is likely to occur as a result”, and, even more alarmingly, Antarctic sea ice is also disappearing faster than ever before. As the BBC explained just last week, “Antarctica’s huge ice expanse regulates the planet’s temperature, as the white surface reflects the Sun’s energy back into the atmosphere and also cools the water beneath and near it.” As scientists explained, “Without its ice cooling the planet, Antarctica could transform from Earth’s refrigerator to a radiator.”

2023: the year that catastrophic climate collapse has become a reality

Given all of the above, 2023 is, by any objective measure, the year that catastrophic climate collapse has become a reality, and, to anyone paying attention, it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest and most alarming story of all our lifetimes — yes, really: bigger than the Second World War, bigger than 9/11 and the “war on terror”, bigger than our families, our relationships, our jobs, our wealth, our status, our sense of entitlement, our holidays, and the ceaseless egotism of celebrity culture.

And yet, our political leaders and, for the most part, the mainstream media, still refuse to take the crisis seriously.

As a result, those who recognise the gravity of the situation, as well as being in a state of permanent incredulity (as climate scientists have been in for decades), are obliged to somehow cope with the relentless feelings of dread, anger and sadness that I mentioned at the start of this article, and — if they can avoid despair, the deadly killer of hope — are caught in a permanent struggle to raise awareness in a world that doesn’t seem to care, and that, in many ways, is actively conspiring to suppress even their limited efforts to sound the alarm.

In the UK, in Germany, in Australia and elsewhere, disruptions aimed at raising awareness — blocking traffic, throwing paint at the glass protecting revered works of art, and disrupting well-attended cultural and sporting events — are increasingly criminalised through punitive new protest laws, disproportionate prison sentences, and even pre-emptive arrest and imprisonment.

To their credit, activists remain largely undeterred. 600,000 people gathered in 60 countries around the world last weekend for the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels, while tens of thousands of activists in the Netherlands endured water cannons for several days as they peacefully blocked a motorway, leading, astonishingly, to over 3,000 arrests, and in the UK this week Channel 4 broadcast an extraordinarily powerful programme by the well-known conservationist Chris Packham, ‘Is It Time to Break the Law?’, in which, in a gripping and searingly honest manner, he asked where the acceptable lines of protest and direct action are, and whether they should be crossed, when the very future of humanity and a habitable planet is at stake.

A screenshot of Channel 4’s page for ‘Chris Packham: Is It Time to Break the Law?’, broadcast on September 20, 2023, and available online.

As Jack Seale explained in a Guardian review, the film “follows him as he deals with a profound dilemma about how to live his life, and what that life is for, and it tells us that this is a decision we at home must also now make.” He added, “The climate apocalypse is here and, despite fires and floods around the world, there is still — maddeningly — little sign of the change needed to avert the deeper catastrophe that is coming. Voting hasn’t worked. Peaceful protest hasn’t worked. Rational debate hasn’t worked. What now?”

What now, indeed? Was Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam right to tell Chris Packham that “a revered public figure being ‘banged up’ could be the tipping point the movement needs”?

I think it probably wouldn’t, because, unfortunately, I doubt that the severity of the crisis can be properly understood by the required number of people to effect a “tipping point” until politicians and the mainstream media “tell the truth”, as Extinction Rebellion first urged at their founding five years ago. Until people are mobilised out of their stupor, paralysis or denial by those who claim to provide leadership, it will remain a profoundly uphill struggle to convince the majority of people that a climate apocalypse is imminent, that no one is coming to help us, and that, the longer we pretend it isn’t happening, the more devastating the outcomes will be.

In daily life, I find it disconcerting to see the majority of people behaving as though the already unfolding collapse isn’t happening. It may sound harsh, but, in my own upwardly mobile neighbourhood, I often feel a twinge of profound sorrow as the coffee shops swarm with new mums, cooing over their babies as though the future is as dependable and immutable as the past, when that is clearly not the case. A metaphorical tsunami looms over everything and everyone, and yet no one wants to acknowledge it, even though I’m sure that, deep down, many of these mums are not members of that alarmingly large minority of people who continue to insist that climate change is a hoax.

In the mainstream media, even my daily visits to the website of the Guardian, whose coverage of the climate crisis is better than most media outlets, involves wading through a barrage of irrelevance and distractions to find the truth — wading, in other words, through the mostly irrelevant minutiae of daily politics, and the increasingly hollow coverage of ‘lifestyle’ topics, fashion and culture, ceaselessly diluting the necessary focus on the imminent collapse of everything we know and hold dear.

The worst politicians ever

While most of the mainstream media, in a criminally negligent manner, refuses to accept its obligation to accurately report the existential threat posed by climate collapse, politicians have, in most cases, entered a new era of contempt for reality, revealing, more than ever, how they don’t actually represent the people, but only represent the interests of big business, and also revealing how, when they do think of the people, it is only to try to find ways to lie to them to get them to support them at the ballot box.

Britain, sadly, has been let down by its politicians to an unprecedented degree since the catastrophic EU referendum in June 2016, which unleashed an entire political class based on denying reality and claiming that Brexit has been a success, when there is not a single instance of this actually being the case, and the UK is, instead, both suicidally impoverished, and isolated and alone, cast adrift like a pariah state.

The biggest crime of its post-truth politicians, however, is to believe that, “freed” from the EU, post-Brexit Britain has also been “freed” from its laws and its history, a tabula rasa on which the overweeningly arrogant fantasists of this deranged party of fake patriotism can project whatever they want, unperturbed by any membership of any larger entity that might be able to point out that they are suicidally demented.

Having had to endure Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, both of whom are disasters of such epic proportions that they make a black hole look friendly, it turns out that Rishi Sunak is as startlingly inept and mendacious as both of his predecessors. A hollow human being to an unprecedented degree, Sunak has just rowed back on Britain’s climate targets, delaying the planned 2030 phase out of all new petrol and diesel vehicles until 2035, and risibly inventing non-existent ‘green’ policies to ban — including “taxes on eating meat”, “new taxes to discourage flying”, “sorting your rubbish into seven different bins” and “compulsory car sharing” — in a profoundly shameful and almost certainly counter-productive effort to attract support from anyone beyond the rump of Conservative Party voters — that Trumpian constituency of miserable, backwards-looking haters — who love Brexit, hate refugees and also love their cars, almost certainly more than life itself, with a fanatical and unswerving devotion.

Rishi Sunak’s tweet describing the non-existent ‘green’ policies that he banned on September 20, 2023.

Sunak’s idiocy will no doubt backfire, just as his “small boats” debacle did this summer, because a maximum of 29% of the registered British electorate — and almost certainly less — are actually people who wouldn’t look out of place at a Trump rally, but, more importantly, his U-turn has also led to unprecedented anger from car manufacturers, energy suppliers and other representatives of big business, who are already investing billions of pounds in the transition to greener transport and energy, and who require, above all, leaders who can demonstrate consistency, not flip-flopping at the whim of the fossil fuel-backed ‘think-tanks’ of Tufton Street, who increasingly dictate government policy.

The endgame

In some ways, dismal little Rishi Sunak is an outlier, as the greenwards drift of business’s response to his U-turn shows, but throughout the western world, where emissions remain the highest, governments of all persuasions continue not only to let fossil fuel companies expand their homicidal operations; they also continue to subsidise them financially to the tune of billions of dollars, pounds and Euros.

As the Guardian reported last week, “The US accounts for more than a third of the expansion of global oil and gas production planned by mid-century, despite its claims of climate leadership”, followed by Canada, Russia, Iran, China, Brazil and the UAE, and with significant contributions from Australia, Norway and the UK. As was also reported at the same time, in 2022 the World Bank “poured billions of dollars into fossil fuels around the world last year despite repeated promises to refocus on shifting to a low-carbon economy”, and in August the International Monetary Fund (IMF) established that, in 2022, fossil fuel companies “benefited from record subsidies of $13m (£10.3m) a minute”, as the Guardian explained, “despite being the primary cause of the climate crisis.”

Clearly, the dread, anger and sorrow experienced by those most sensitive to climate collapse is going to continue to be felt until all new oil, gas and coal extraction is stopped, although there are signs of progress — beyond the encouraging fact that car manufacturers and energy suppliers have turned on Rishi Sunak with the venom he deserves.

As the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported last week, “The world’s demand for oil, gas and coal will begin to decline this decade in ‘the beginning of the end’ of the fossil fuel era, as the Guardian described it, adding that the “global energy watchdog” had “projected for the first time that fossil fuel consumption will peak before 2030 and fall into permanent decline as climate policies take effect”, although with the caveat that “the forecast downturn is still ‘nowhere near steep enough’ to put the world on a path to limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrialised levels.”

Viewed optimistically, a turning point can still be reached, because renewable energy  is increasingly affordable, and is increasingly a sound investment, and banks — ever in search of profits — are increasingly taking notice. However, their investments in renewables are still overshadowed by their investments in fossil fuels, and as the UN reported two weeks ago, in the first “global stocktake” under the Paris agreement, prepared for the next UN climate summit, COP28, which will be held in Dubai in November, time has run out for any further evasion.

For the first time — cutting though oil-rich countries repeated objections — the UN report spells out that “unabated” fossil fuel use must be phased out, as well as scaling up renewables, ending deforestation, and tackling the alarming rise in methane emissions. especially from oil and gas operations.

As the Guardian’s environment editor, Damien Carrington, explained, “The report does not shy away from the scale of the challenge. ‘It is essential to unlock and redeploy trillions of dollars to meet global investment needs’, it says. In other words, it requires reengineering the global financial system”, and “[s]topping the fossil fuel investments and vast subsidies that are throwing fuel on the climate fire is critical.”

COP28 will almost certainly not deliver, but those of us seeking ways to foment the revolutionary changes needed to have a change of salvaging a liveable future can at least be reassured that the UN report spells out, unambiguously, that we must “unlock and redeploy trillions of dollars” to have a chance of succeeding. Scientists and advisers to the world’s governments have managed to point out that the global financial system as we know it — 21st century capitalism, in other words — must completely shift all its priorities if a habitable planet is to survive.

It won’t particularly help me tomorrow morning, as I grapple once more with the dread, the anger and the sorrow, but it will, hopefully, be sufficient to keep the despair at bay.

And if I can, I’ll try to find the patience to keep watching as the signs of climate collapse grow ever stronger — as they certainly will — and to believe that, sooner rather than later, and long before 2030, the shrill hysteria of the deniers will ring ever more hollow until it collapses under the weight of its own malignant emptiness, and the genocidal CEOs of the fossil fuel companies will be ever more clearly exposed until the change we need becomes inevitable.

What else can I do?

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (see the ongoing photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and, in 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to try to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody.

Since 2019, Andy has become increasingly involved in environmental activism, recognizing that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to life on earth, and that the window for change — requiring a severe reduction in the emission of all greenhouse gases, and the dismantling of our suicidal global capitalist system — is rapidly shrinking, as tipping points are reached that are occurring much quicker than even pessimistic climate scientists expected. You can read his articles about the climate crisis here.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

24 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, featuring my reflections, at the end of an unprecedented summer of catastrophic, human-induced climate chaos, about what we can do and how we can cope with ever-increasing climate collapse in the face of a persistent refusal, by politicians and the media, to respond to the gravest existential threat in all our lifetimes with anything resembling the urgency that is required.

    I hope it’s of interest. Included in it is a resounding endorsement of Chris Packham’s film, ‘Is It Time to Break the Law?’, broadcast this week on Channel 4, and what I hope is my withering condemnation of this week’s shameful U-turn on Britain’s climate obligations by our horrendously hollow and irresponsible Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Michael Harank wrote:

    Thanks Andy … your words of urgent warning make the phrase “climate catastrophe” meaningful in a real if dreadful way. One must hope against hope and keep rolling the Sisyphus rock up the mountain through the small steps of nonviolent direct action until the vast majority of those mostly responsible wake up! Your cry in the wilderness is being heard … heeded? As Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian singer and songwriter says in one song, “you have to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Michael, for your understanding of my efforts to portray the reality of the climate catastrophe that continues to be avoided by most politicians and the majority of the mainstream media. It’s a lot of effort on my part for almost no discernible impact whatsoever, as even many of my friends and supporters seem to have raised an invisible barrier that prevents them from engaging with it, but I can’t see any alternative but to keep writing about it, given that, as I note in my article, it’s an ever-present source of dread, anger or sorrow for me, and one that I’m incapable of pretending doesn’t exist.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Bennett Hall wrote:

    If only the only flashpoint evolving today for humanity was climate change, which in theory should be a unifying force. Few among us have the power to do much about it other than some companies that are determined to for example, make 20 million electric vehicles for a year and an integrated infrastructure that supports it to completely end all internal combustion engine vehicles forever.

    That said, who is working to ensure similar change with respect to the consumption of cattle, which has a dramatic negative impact on climate change? Who is stopping the consumption of coal by south Asian countries where they’re still clamoring for solutions due to lack of financial resources to electrify?

    And then you have an entire government that is threatening nuclear war – an old man with bluster, feeling comfortable, putting at risk the entire survival of humanity with nuclear weapons. I can’t believe at my now, old age that this is still happening some thing that gave me terror as a child hiding under a desk listening to John Kennedy asked us to pray that he wouldn’t have to end the world today as if hiding under a desk with a saved anyone.

    So what is one to do today?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Bennett. As I struggled to articulate in my conclusion, I seem to have reached the point where I can only hope that, as the impacts of climate collapse become ever more prominent – later this year, as El Nino makes its presence felt, and next summer, and the summer of 2025 – the need to pull the plug on fossil fuels and to pour all our resources into how to survive will become unavoidable.

    As you note, however, there is something particularly dispiriting about the ongoing warmongering and the threat of nuclear annihilation, which I first felt acutely as a teenager in the early ’80s, but which is once more rearing its ugly genocidal impulses.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hester wrote:

    The first lecture I know of on climate change was in 1847 from George Perkins Marsh, we’ve been kicking the can down the road ever since.

    There was no safe level of destabilising of the atmosphere. Various tipping points have been crossed since we warmed the planet by just a half a degree Celsius!

    In the monster climate change summary below there are six dozen feedback loops that we have triggered, most are irreversible.
    Managing our grief and the grief of our youth is the biggest pre-collapse challenge we face.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Kevin – and, of course, for your much longer study of climate collapse, while I was, for so many years, so intensely focused on the horrors inflicted on several hundred mostly blameless Muslim men in Guantanamo.

    Guy’s article, which you linked to, is hugely important reading, but my own position is that telling people that it’s too late to save ourselves, even if we pulled the plug on all fossil fuels tomorrow, is much more dangerous than the ongoing effort to try to persuade people that pulling the plug on all fossil fuels tomorrow is worthwhile.

    In the few years that we have left, I’d rather do all I can to persuade people to be constructive, and to think of community, than simply give in to a dog-eat-dog world of brute survival, as I can see that one playing out far too easily when I spend any time thinking about it.

    You’re right to say that we need to “manag[e] our grief and the grief of our youth”, but we also need to build solidarity and adaptability, if for no other reason than to try to diminish the power of the human tsunami of selfish violence that the increasing collapse of civilisation will unleash.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Saskia Kent wrote:

    I hope you don’t mind this post, Andy. Since covid I have occasionally done reportage (live reporting) from Downing St briefings (as seen on the telly box.) Here’s my take on Richie’s anti Net Zero one the other day……… Downing St briefing aka Bonfire of the Sanities
    Short term indecisions for a boiling future.
    Richie the Rightest
    I know people are frustrated that I am such a useless shit. At our endless gameplaying, and your lack of choice. Government will step on you. Nothing will change, our special interests are the only thing I give a toss about. Motivated by short term thinking I will fuck you all over for generations. Put simply, the nagging sense that I have no idea what I’m doing is about to show you how powerless you all are. I will bravely sacrifice your children’s future for my short term political needs.
    Do you really want to change our country? Well I won’t let you. Climate change, floods, heat, reduce emissions, green industry gobbledy greenwash. I am a walking oxymoron. I will courageously rip up Net Zero in front of your very eyes. 7 Bins for Recycling? utter nonsense. You struggling plebs are ignorant and stupid. Britain is best at bullshit. I will ensure my industry chums will risk nothing.
    I will honestly line their pockets with your broken dreams. Zealots want to save the world. Hidden in plain sight, any moral backbone. (Christ I can’t even parody this utter mendacity.) Abandon hope all ye who listen here whilst I pretend this is about working people.
    Petrol and diesel forever! Gas boilers, love em. Heat pumps, much too difficult. We won’t force anyone to do anything to save the planet, at least not till 2035, or maybe ever. Boiler upgrade scheme now £7.500. Home insulation, we’ve already trashed it and we will now scrap it entirely. Recycling, scrapped along with a load of other stuff. New oil and gas in the North Sea, bring it on! Carbon budgets are nonsense, why bother at all?
    Windy wonderland. Carbon capture clusterfuck. Nukes 4 U! Grid U like. Investors for me! Terrific technobabble. Blame the Brazilians. Pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach in my race to the bottom. Resistance is futile.
    BBC: Spaffer says you’re faltering, biz is worried, aren’t you just scared about losing the election?
    Autopilot bollocks, easy soundbite word salad of vapidity. You are all wrong, I am righter than right.
    ITV: you know better than anyone we’ve had years of underinvestment due to instability. Delaying targets mean big biz think you’ve pulled the rug from under them?
    Um Wot? I’m righter than right, I love cars. Gridlock of nonsense. Consent ha ha!
    Gbeebies: how much will this actually save, will you have a referendum on Net Zero by 2050?
    Oh it will save about as much as half a helicopter ride for me, poor little plebs. Blame my critics, I’m righter than right. Referendums, oh had enough of those (giggles). Russell Brand levels of consent is what matters to me.
    The Times: you’ve talked about phasing out gas boilers from 2035, this is an existing policy from 2021, what’s new?
    I am being straight with you, I love property owners, everybody else can go hang. I am committed to being righter than right.
    Daily Fail: Carbon budgets are legally binding, are you changing the law? Lots of your own MP’s are very pissed off with you, can you do this?
    Unequivically targets, shmargets, fartlets. On track to incineration. If you disagree, you are wrong, I am righter than right.
    The Scum, you say your’re changing gear, is this the start of you trying to change your polling, WTF with HS2?
    Um this isn’t about politics, it’s about me being righter than right. Clear direction of travel into the buffers of oblivion.
    Grauniad: Lots of people will be wondering WTF you are going to do to get to net Zero, how are you going to do it? How are you going to explain this crap to your daughters?
    On track to righter than right, rinse and repeat word salad of vapidity. You are wrong. Just for clarity, here’s some obscurity. Leadership of losers, my daughter’s won’t have to fork out £10 grand coz my wife’s got millions!
    LBC: May brought in the target, why has it taken you so long to be honest about the costs?
    Personality. I’ve got less than anyone. Can’t bear all this emotional flack. I’m righter than right. Suck it up.
    Ripple of muted applause from the SPADs at the back as he scuttles shamelessly off.
    (PS, if you want a really good laugh check out #sevenbins on the Xbird before Space Karen kills the app entirely, it’s brilliant)

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s great, Saskia. Thanks for sharing. I love that repeated refrain of “I am righter than right”!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Kevin Hester wrote, in response to 7, above:

    Understating the crises we face is what has got us here.
    Even Dr. James E. Hansen admits that 10C is baked in with existing emissions & Feedback loops.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    With respect, I don’t think that understating the crisis is what has got us here, Kevin. I think the warnings were dire enough back in 1988, and in 1992 when the Rio Summit was held, right through to Paris in 2015, but the problem has always been that those allegedly in charge of the homicidal juggernaut of late 20th century and early 21st century capitalism don’t even want to properly recognise that the entire basis of our supposedly miraculous global civilisation is actually killing us.

    It’s also clear that the majority of people – at least those in the pampered West – don’t want to recognise the implications of what, over the last five years, has been an increasing acceptance that climate change is real. Pointing out ever more alarming forecasts of how we’re doomed whatever we do isn’t going to suddenly wake them up. Actual felt experience of collapse is going to do that, but by then they’ll probably shift into a brutal survival mode, which is why the position I’m taking is that we need people who can see beyond themselves to bring as many people on board as possible to prevent, or at least hold off the swiftest of descents into barbarism.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Saskia Kent wrote, in response to 9, above:

    Andy, the whole way through his rapid fire mendacity, he kept insisting that he was right and his was the only way. Mask slipped when asked a question by Pippa Crerar from the Grauniad, he actually said “you are wrong”. Absurd but kind of chilling.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s the Brexit effect, Saskia. Truss used to do the same thing. Her entire catastrophic tenure as PM involved her repeatedly asserting that she was doing what she “felt” was right.

    Before Brexit, there was an an entire machinery of history, precedent and our shared experiences with other EU countries that required leaders to contextualise themselves; ever since, we’ve been ruled by self-obsessed toddlers with brittle egos and no notion that anything outside their own heads – their own “feelings” – and their extremely narrow field of accomplices is either real or even has any fundamental right to exist.

    Certainly, criticism is now regarded as a crime, as we can see from their contempt for the law, and for lawyers and judges.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    It’s here what we’ve been talking about And dreading is here … and it’s happening so quickly but we know what will help … everything stops … remember in lockdown how the air became cleaner this has to happen globally then we might have a chance.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I remember the clean air of lockdown so well, Damien, and the taste of petrol in the air when the roads started filling up with traffic once more.

    Sadly, those of us who are up for adaptation – who find so many positives in the thought of turning off the oil and gas taps – remain in a beleaguered minority, up against a mass of other people who are so stuck in their ways that they get blazingly angry when even the slightest changes to the status quo are proposed.

    We always hear the same moaning about how dependent we are on oil and gas, when it’s simply not true. If we turned off everything tomorrow, what would we really lose? Our cars and our heating. It would be inconvenient, but it wouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge. We can still walk and cycle, and any sane society would of course keep public transport, and when it comes to heating we could finally embark on the countrywide programme of insulation that is so desperately needed.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Lesley Marshall wrote:

    Wise words. Thank you for putting this together so succinctly Andy. Sunak or Starmer, both who have been bought, have the same mind numbing mentality and offer no hope of any way forward.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for appreciating my efforts, Lesley. Good to hear from you. Our leaders and would-be leaders, as you note, are hopelessly unmoored from reality, although the Tories at least have a handful of present and former ministers who are pulling no punches when it comes to addressing the need for urgent change – Alok Sharma, Chris Skidmore and Zac Goldsmith spring immediately to mind.

    As for Labour, all they seem to have is Ed Miliband, who they seem quite unwilling to provide an adequate platform for, even though he’s clearly up for it, as they focus on their tired old Blairite nonsense about unleashing business potential, or whatever instantly forgettable drivel it is that they’re pretending has any relevance.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Goodwin wrote:

    I made a film about the effects of climate change on the British way of life in 2000, it’s on YouTube. One of the things I learned is that CO2 takes up to 50 years to affect climate in the atmosphere, so just stop oil is more like just stop emissions in a post World War industrial Soviet Union or just stop oil being burnt in the burning oil fields of Kuwait. Whatever we do now must be about mitigating the effects of climate change as they are happening today and less about stopping the runaway train. As for campaigning I believe we should simply allow the weather to carry out our propaganda for the planet, spend our time creating citizens assemblies around the country centered on existing food banks that are socially connected, practically relevant in that they are already dealing with day-to-day survival, and all over the place in every town and City.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the link, Neil, and for your thoughts. Local solidarity sounds like an eminently sensible suggestion, although my experiences in Lewisham indicate that it’s mainly anarchists and squatters who have taken this message on board, and it hasn’t spread far beyond them. I suppose if we were to think seriously about it, we should start working on London-wide plans to use all available land for growing food to feed us all – a revival of the war-time spirit that so many people claim to cherish.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    For another take on “staying sane on a dying planet”, the Guardian had an interview yesterday with Charlie Hertzog Young, an activist who, in 2019, at the age of 27, was suffering from such severe mental health problems that he jumped off a tall building, leading to the loss of both his legs. It’s an extraordinary story, as Young has rebuilt his life, and his book ‘Spinning Out’ has just been published:

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Caroline Colebrook wrote, in response to 15, above:

    I agree and I think the issue of improved public transport is the key issue. So many people have now grown up thinking of the car as an essential extension of their own person and are terrified of mixing with their fellow humans on buses and trains. Perhaps schools should run their field trips, museum visits etc using public transport instead of school coaches to teach them how to read bus and train maps and timetables etc. It’s not rocket science but it seems to be missing from most education syllabuses.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Caroline. I absolutely agree about people thinking of their cars as an essential extension of themselves – or, to put it another way, how individual car ownership has come to be regarded as an inalienable right, rather than a privilege. It’s fundamentally wrong that there are 1.4 billion fossil fuel-powered vehicles on earth, when each one is a reckless polluter of our precious atmosphere.

    Education is essential, but while those of us who live in cities don’t really have any excuse not to use alternative transport methods – walking, cycling, trains and buses – it’s clearly more of a problem in the countryside, where the provision of public transport isn’t adequate, and investment is clearly required to provide more buses. One solution would be to embrace the model of the dolmuş, as used in Turkey – essentially, small minibuses that can cover a multitude of routes much more effectively than the type of buses used in the UK.

    It’s all possible – we just need an acceptance of the need to reduce transport to a significant extent, some leadership and some creative thinking …

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    When Anna Brown shared this on Facebook she wrote:

    Deeply sobering and moving — a must read!

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Anna, and for the supportive words.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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