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Little Love in a Cold Climate (with apologies to Nancy Mitford)
This Green and Surprisingly Pleasant Land - climate change
First, a word of caution. I will almost certainly be long gone before the worst consequences of climate change become apparent. Secondly, and connected to the above, this may explain why I am not as engaged in this debate as I should be.
If, despite this you are prepared to read on, it’s much appreciated rather more so I guess than King Charles appreciated having to read out a pile of brown stuff in the King’s Speech setting out what passes for the government’s programme in the coming year. As someone who has been keenly engaged in environmental issues he was unlikely to have enjoyed mouthing what the government had to say about its desire to end all this climate mollycoddling with an ode to fossil fuels to be celebrated in the shape of new North Sea oil and gas drilling licences.
The small rich fella and his friends who concocted this speech reckon that embarrassing the King is a small price to pay for an election strategy designed to shift blame for the current economic mess onto those who are doing something to resolve the climate crisis.
Freed from the restraints of climate correctness they can lash out at woke-crazed extremists banging on about saving the planet, they can mock seal saviours in the Antarctic and as for small islands being overwhelmed by the sea in remote places, who cares? Hard-headed realists have far more important things to worry about, besides which earnest debates about climate change are frankly boring.
Maybe we could get back to the time when talk about the weather actually revolved around how awful it is ‘for the time of the year’. Indeed, don’t we all just love a good weather moan. Because it’s like riding a bicycle, I haven’t lost the knack of wryly joining in with witty remarks about the wonders of a typical British summer. No one takes it too seriously. Only excitable foreigners worry about extreme climates.
Moreover the climate change debate is really off putting. On the one hand you have a bunch of crazies who insist that talk about climate change is woke nonsense fuelled by dubious science. On the other hand you have people who believe that stopping traffic on motorways is part of a righteous mission to increase awareness of what’s happening to the climate. Things get worse when po-faced climate activists with strange head gear seem have a problem understanding that environmental virtue is not an absolute. It is quite possible, for example, to own a car while being concerned over climate change.
The thing is that reasonable people (by definition people who read this Substack) can recognise the dangers of a warming planet and are quite happy to do something about it but draw the line at doing stuff that costs a lot of money and impinges heavily on their everyday lives.
I have switched off an impressive number of lights, turned down the thermostat and have been known to hop onto public transport, leaving my diesel guzzling car at home but I can’t say I am interested in installing an environmentally friendly heat pump because it is too damn expensive. An electric car sounds like a good idea but that’s also pricey and battery technology has yet to cope with travelling long distances. Eventually costs will come down and the technology will improve and this will change behaviour, even mine.
In the meantime what is doable are many modest adjustments, yielding more modest results. Obviously this is less heroic than going the full vegan and shovelling down great quantities of quinoa (whatever that is) or traveling to Central Asia on a bicycle. But, by definition, heroism is not for all.
The idea seems to be that the environment can only be saved by extracting a heavy toll on ordinary citizens. That narrative can only be changed by policy makers who make it their business to reduce the pain.
In this respect hats off to the Biden administration, whose singular achievement has been to put real money behind environmental measures and to successfully frame the environment change debate as being about creating jobs and economic opportunities. The British government appears to have come up with the better plan of moaning about the costs and pushing back the problem.
As there is no prospect of the climate change reversing all by itself, it seems likely that this masterly approach won’t work.
The bottom line is that saving the planet can be achieved and is more likely to be achieved if people are offered plenty of carrots and rather fewer sticks. Even I can understand that.
Idiot of the week
Apologies are in order for previously suggesting that Suella Braverman has been guilty of idiocy because this implies that what she says and does is unintentional whereas it is now clear that her most stupid and offensive utterances have been made with careful forethought as they are designed for the sole purpose of securing the leadership of the Conservative Party whose members have high regard for the more rabid end of the political spectrum.
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