This poem begins with a winter frost. Which is something that always has me thinking about climate change, what with the threat to this fair isle of the Atlantic conveyor shutting down and not bring us any more Caribbean heat. Though tbh, I’m more worried that the effects of catastrophic climate change might affect the importation of Walkerswood hot pepper sauce, but that’s because I like making jokes to deflect from scary things. And because I am super into that hot sauce. But, gags aside, it would seem that
This day black Omens threat the brightest Fair
That e’er deserv’d a watchful Spirit’s Care;
Some dire Disaster, or by Force, or Slight,
But what, or where, the Fates have wrapped in Night.
wouldn’t it? Except that this disaster ain’t been wrapped in no night. It’s right in front of our faces. The science seems to be as unanimous as it need to be for us to take heed. So that’s us b*gger*d. Or at least our kids are (on yer head, son!) I’m still interested, though, in exploring the narratives that we are using to frame our approaches and attitudes to the impending climate catastrophe: prediction that the world is about to end, check; that some or all of us can be saved if only we act better in our day-to-day lives, check; that those of us willing to make sacrifices will be able to live on, check. Hmmm. Remind you of anything? For me, this kind of repent or be damned thinking brings to mind Gerard’s mate, Paul. You know Paul, the one what
taught long that day.
He spoke of God the Father and His Son,
Of world made, marred, and mended, lost and won;
Of virtue and vice; but most (it seemed his sense)
He praised the lovely lot of continence
and it strikes me as funny that even though we may no longer feel that God in any way exists, we still revert to certain archetypal ways of thinking when trying to get our collective heads around impending disaster. This may be down to our inability to countenance the fact that we will die, and soon; that our very own apocalypse lies in wait, no matter what the weather. Or perhaps it’s more that
Dogmas tend to sniff other dogmas.
Then dogma joins dogma in heat.
This can happen on your own sofa
or in front of an entire street.
But this does all get me to wondering (a la Chris Morris) whether I am a good environmentalist or a bad one. For inkstains, I have a child, and another on the way. Me and my partner did this because we wanted our own kids to cuddle and there are those that would argue that this selfishness, this unnecessary adding to the carbon footprint of the sum total of humankind because we felt like it, is A Bad Thing. But we are planning on raising this child (or children) with the environment uppermost in their minds. So possibly come out evens on that score.
I don’t drive. Deffo a plus point. But I only don’t drive because I live in London and driving here’s a miserable, money-wasting waste of time. Can I even claim enviro-points for that?
As a family, our ‘footprint’ is quite light. But that’s only because we’re poor. (There’s only so many air miles you can rack up using Healthy Start vouchers.) Again, does doing sweet f.a. count as good? I reckon a concerned climate-scientist would probably say yes. Whereas a concerned climate-activist would probably tell me to get off my lazy arse more.
I work in a library. I am almost certain that there are far worse jobs I could be doing environment-wise, but is putting up another display of Climate Science books in the kids’ section really gonna save the world?
It would seem then that I am, if only just, a good environmentalist, but a completely ineffectual one, and this only by accident of circumstance. Hmmmm.
Though none of this really matters when it comes to my (or your) chances of being saved. What will count there will be an ability to tough it once our Glorious Capitalist Corporatist Consumer Society has folded.
And I think here it’s worth saying again that
If we go anywhere we’ll go together to meet what happens.
May-be we’ll be better off and blither, and learn something,
May-be it is really yourself ushering me to the true songs, (who knows?)
May-be it is you the mortal knob really undoing, turning — so now finally,
Good-bye — and hail! my fancy.
Ahem, quite. And further to this, what might be a good idea, while we’re still here, and while the lights are still on, is to attempt to mix what appears to be our innate urge to religiosity with an appreciation of the natural world. And then wield the resulting syncretism to emotionally cattle-prod everyone into not screwing up what’s left of the planet.
For it seems, to little old me at least, that we have been given a collective leash just long enough to hang ourselves with, and that
have no fist,
or wouldn’t they have been
for a thousand years now,
longer than that,
at the dull, brutish
ways of mankind—
Instead, such patience!