Private Frazer was right: we’re all doomed


For work-related reasons I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks reading the work of respected climate scientists. Let me tell you now, it has done nothing at all to raise my spirits.

Essentially, the optimists predict a rise in global temperatures that will cause massive disruption and require a complete change in the comfortable lifestyles of those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world.

While the pessimists believe that we have already passed the tipping point and can no longer prevent global warming to a level that will essentially destroy humanity – except for perhaps a few thousand survivors hanging on in the Arctic and Antarctica.

What’s more, this isn’t some long distance horror story but a development that is thundering towards us like an express train, and will directly impact everyone who is not lucky enough to be old and frail enough to look forward to expiring of natural causes in the nearish future.

Even a sceptic – and regular readers will know that I yield to few in my scepticism – can surely see the flashing warning signs by now. Average temperatures are rising. Severe weather events are increasing. Seasonal rains that are vital for plant growth are failing, while the insects that are vital to pollination are disappearing.

As temperatures rise and rainfall reduces food crops fail, but forests catch fire. The forests of Siberia and the Amazon basin are already ablaze, following a global pattern of forest fires affecting California, Canada, Sweden, Greece and even the UK.

The Arctic sea ice is vanishing. In consequence, the now exposed East Siberian Arctic shelf is set to release three trillion tonnes of methane – a vastly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – into the atmosphere.

We are, in short, in an almost certainly unstoppable downward spiral.

Even if we were able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – which seems fantastically unlikely – it is predicted that 150 million people worldwide would die from air pollution alone. That is, for those who share my difficulties with basic maths, some 25 Holocausts.

While warming of a much more probable three degrees would unleash human suffering on a scale never experienced in the whole course of history – including (but certainly not limited to) huge increases in malnutrition, starvation, disease, mass migration, civil conflict and war.

But surely, as the fantastically irritating Greta Thunberg points out, if all this were true, governments would be acting. They would be putting their nations on a war footing and focusing on nothing else.

Rather than, say, rubbing their hands at the economic development potential of trashing what is left of the Brazilian rainforest, or looking to accelerate exploration for fossil fuels in the handily ice-free Arctic Ocean.

It is true that humanity has always loved a good story to make its collective flesh creep, and has nurtured a soft spot for many a death cult. 

It is also true, as the optimists point out, that there is nothing like a crisis for unleashing our ability to come up with new creative solutions.

But I find it very hard indeed to avoid the conclusion that something very bad indeed is already happening to our planet, and that those with the answers should not hang about in getting them match-ready and sharing them with us all.

Even so, I don’t honestly see how solutions can be implemented through our existing quasi-democratic structures. Imagine presenting voters with the proposition that there is going to be no economic growth, a massive reduction in the number of jobs, no more foreign holidays (because of the climatic impact of flying), and a drastic curtailment of their diet.

In short, our party promises you a return to many aspects of the lifestyle of the Middle Ages, perhaps without the Black Death but also without the opportunities to drink milk and eat meat.

And so does every other party.

Good luck with getting anyone to vote for that.

In fact, I think it is going to be quite hard to get voters to accept the stuff that the Government has already signed us up for, including the consignment of every central heating boiler and petrol- and diesel-engined vehicle in the country to the scrapheap.

I am far from sure that the implications of all of the above have yet registered with the proverbial man on the about to be scrapped Clapham omnibus.

It can be fairly argued that what the UK does about climate change is of pretty minimal importance in the greater scheme of things: we are already a shining light in the field of carbon reduction, mainly through the cunning wheeze of exporting all our heavy manufacturing industry to China.

Yet if the whole of humanity is threatened by climate change, we must stand together and national differences clearly cannot be allowed to continue. If we are subsisting on quorn and insects in England, it would clearly be riot-inducingly unfair if they continued to enjoy a decent steak frites in France.

All of which strongly suggests to me that we will be moving towards a supranational dictatorship far faster than even the biggest fans of a federal Europe currently envisage.

This is very sad for those of us, like me, who have based their long-standing opposition to the EU on an affection for national sovereignty and democracy. But if the climate scientists are even halfway right, these concepts are doomed, and we are destined to look back on the days when we feared a far left Corbyn-McDonnell UK administration with misty-eyed affection.

That is, of course, if we are among the lucky few destined to survive at all.


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