By Connor Kelly
It would be easy to get depressed and demoralised with the current craziness that seems to have engulfed the world. As America obsesses on which of two unrepentant psychopaths will take over the reins of the free world, as they, and other world leaders gear up for the next great cold war, as the price of your cornflakes jumps another ten pence – why not just give up on everything and throw in the towel. But do not despair, strange earthling, for I am here to tell you that:
It’s Worse Than You Think.
As they trundle our societies along towards mass extinction, our masters don’t seem to be in the least bit perturbed. Bravely grimacing at us, they declare that by the divine law of progress, things can only get better.
New figures, described by climate scientist Bill McKibben in the New Republic as “even scarier than we thought” suggest that our “carbon budget” – that is, how much carbon we can “afford” to burn before it would result in dangerous climate change – is much, much lower than previously imagined. In fact, by McKibben’s calculations, burning all the coal, oil and gas in our already opened mines and wells, would result in us exceeding – by a country mile – the 2 degree “safe” limit agreed by world leaders in Paris last year. (In fact, a safe limit would be closer to 1.5 degrees or lower).
It is not just an arbitrary number. 2 degrees means 3 degrees, means 4 degrees etc. If certain “climate thresholds” are crossed, then the changes begin to take on their own dynamic that is way beyond our control.
Meanwhile, the British Independent reports that “the majority of people alive today will experience life on a dangerously overheated planet.” The planet is heating up “much faster” than anticipated as our leaders have failed to alleviate a crisis that they have known about for 40 years.
In short, it’s just become a helluva lot more difficult to imagine a scenario in which we aren’t completely fucked.
What does this mean? Should we all just go to a secluded spot with a large bottle of whiskey and a noose, and whimper our way to oblivion? No. We must focus our many billions of brilliant and creative minds on ways that:
- We can change the world now, in a revolutionary manner, in order to avoid very dangerous climate changes.
- Begin to formulate preparations that can we take to mitigate and survive the dangerous aspects of climate change that are coming in the near future regardless of measure we take now.
If, as we have seen in recent years, the great hope for millions worldwide lies in new mass radical social democratic movements – like Corbyn’s Labour in Britain, the Bernie campaign in the US, and various movements throughout Europe and beyond – then it is incumbent upon those movements to also become ecological movements. This is not an optional extra, this cannot just be well-intentioned encouragement. This means that the movements must undergo an ecological pivot – and put the environmental crisis and the planetary emergency at the very heart of everything they do.
If not, then history – if it exists at all – will judge us harshly, as the human society with the most wealth, and the working class with the most power and wherewithal to combat such a crisis – that turned its face away until the last minute, when, suddenly energised, they realised that it was too late. It’s time to get Apocalyptic folks, and quick.
Seamus Heaney is the world’s greatest poet in history, ever, living or dead, so sayeth the oracle. His poems about “digging” or “blackberry picking” are not just the sweet annals of a man’s life in the country; they strike at the very heart of what it means to be human, or something. Saint Seamus has had a new museum dedicated to his life and work erected in South Derry. By agreement of the political leaders of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain, all poets will be henceforth required to undertake 100 hours of quiet meditation in the museum before they will be eligible for an Arts Council grant.
One such poet, Marcus Melarkey, voyaged to Bellaghy this month to proceed with his study, but when he went to look for the bramble bushes and spud fields – in order to compose honest and forthright poetry – he found that they had been inundated by flood water, the berries wilted and sad, the spuds withered by a foul smelling blight, and people running to higher ground declaring that the end was nigh. Melarkey collapsed in the 30 degree heat spluttering in the polluted air and died. He will not be remembered.