Listening to all the hot air, CO2, and no doubt methane emissions happening in Glasgow, another load of meaningless promises, empty rhetoric, and facile jokes in equal measure I feel despair. Crawling progress, a few barely believable promises, or worse expressions of intent to change. In the case of the latter, think invariant addicted gambler promising never again, only to slip the phone into palm and tap, select, click and gamble and gone.
Truth is, COP 26, in Glasgow, and it’s the same Government promises, rolled over from Paris, Rome, Rio, and whole host of errr, well, hosts. Let’s face it there’s a litany of empty promises and rhetoric, some documented in music, if not whole songs then stand out lines, that echo across time, decades, lives and dashed hopes. For me the first song I recall have a strong environmental message,
They took all the trees, and put them in a tree museum,
and they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em,
We’re not there yet, but are we that far away? We’re moving there, already some national parks in some nations charge for national forest and park entrance, we have special gardens, governments toying with the idea of paying farmers to maintain trees...
Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now,
Leave the spots on the apples
But save me the birds and the bees,
We may have banned DDT, in most of the world, but with new farming methods, and pesticides, we still have spotless apples, we still have food that all looks the same, and sadly tastes the same nothingness, and Joni ( Mitchell ) would probably conclude all too little has changed, perhaps if;
We paved paradise and put up a parking lot,
Worse, we've been all too keen to slap down runways on every island idyll, and it’s all too true, paradise turned to Holiday Inned rooms, Starbucked, Nando’d and Mac’ed island’s roaded, homes bulldozed.
We don’t know what we’ve got ‘til it’s gone,
Perhaps we’re starting to realise that’s all too true.
These lines written, what 50 years ago, tell how little appears to have changed, well on the surface, but there’s still truth in these words, the voice pleading and hopeful then could well be the disillusioned now, as we huddle, in what our (the UKs) leader sees as the “ last minute to midnight “.
There’ve been other environmental songs and we all have our favourites, Michael Jackson – Earth song, Marvin Gaye – Mercy, Mercy Me, Lou Reed – Last Great American Whale, amongst them, sad thing is all these songs bought, played, enjoyed, covered, reissued, rediscovered, but sadly not redundant sentiment in the present world. Sad to see the planet’s still at risk, sad, nothing seems to be changing, now or in the future.
Perhaps as Private Frazier user bemoan “Doomed, doomed, doomed, we’re all doomed”
As for the future of the COP – OUT -26, I have my doubts, the outcomes, and the analogy of midnight has a certain recognition of implicit failure. There is a sense of foreboding, the message is it truly more than - we must accept our fate - being doomed to a climate change driven world. The pleas for restraint, promises of planned change, extortions for managed reconfiguration appear floating in the breeze, burnt papers and embers from the litany of forest burn offs. Yes, there’s pious promises, empty words, sadly all too little real action from the Northern Hemisphere’s carbon guzzlers.
As the clock ticks inexorably past midnight, and into a new CARBON warmed day, with no turning back, and all that means. Too many think ‘Global warming, Brighton as sunny and hot as the Costa del Sol, bring it on, bring it on’, well it’s a bit more complex than that. The rising sea level could leave Brighton, Blackpool, Bournemouth inundated, candy floss, floating jetsam, on the rising flood tides. At Cop OUT 26 we’ll do what we’ve always done, kick the can down the road, only this time – it’s likely to disappear over the cliff, gone, and with it, the last chance to save parts of what’s at risk, part of what we should instead treasure.
Joni and the environmentalists sang of hope and for many of us the efforts were real, yeah we banned DDT, yeah we banned CFCs, and we’ll soon have electric cars, and ‘trees to charge them by, and hydrogen heating, and electric planes. BUT only after nations in the pacific have disappeared slowly, painfully under the slowly rising waves, or washed away in increasing hurricane, typhoo, monsoon seasons.
So as BoJos clock ticks past midnight, perhaps it’s time we stopped fighting the climate so hard, and started thinking about dealing with consequences of increased rainfall in the UK, started preparing to ABANDON some SIGNIFICANT areas to rising seas and storm waters, and use COP OUT (whenever) to minimise these losses, and mitigate the effects on the world coastal areas, and land and habitat loss.
Perhaps seeing this may shock people into realising that some of this is down to us, our actions and inactions, our consumption and travel, our lack of care for others, will such plans be a wake up call, perhaps, will their discussion be timely, probably not. Will we care enough to see and drive the changes? I don’t see it. We’re all, including me, focused on the here and now, looking at the can bouncing after each kick thinking “Why doesn’t someone pick the can up?” No-one wants to be responsible. So we're stuck with a noisy can, annoying, and hoping someone else will deal with it.
For me, all the exhortations, all the so-called nudge theory that drove the COVID crisis’ early response spell lessons for climate change. Just as the “wear a mask issue” was the protection of others, it’s other significance was the engendering a sense of where we were, in a life and death crisis, with a high level of JEOPARDY for us all, (before the vaccine roll out). So too now in this climate we needed a similar response to create a sense of crisis, quite what that is, I have no idea what cuts through? The issuing of “At risk flood maps”, I’ve seen them in the east end of London, no one paid attention. But it's the government and it’s US. We have to perhaps face up to the reality of climate change, and it’s impact on all our lives. Another songline DOES offer a very bleak solution.
“gonna keep on trying ‘til I reach my highest ground”
I have the feeling, sad to say Stevie Wonder’s refrain, though spiritual, has a resonance that chimes with our world in 50 years’ time. The issue is how we all get there, TOGETHER.