We know that, as far back as the late 50s, researchers for the oil industry understood the effects of carbon on the atmosphere but did nothing about it.
In 1988 George HW Bush promised on the campaign trail to fight climate change. “I am an environmentalist,” he declared. “Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect are forgetting about the White House effect.”
There was, of course, no White House effect.
In 1997 the world’s leaders signed the Kyoto protocol, with Bill Clinton declaring “a commitment from our generation to act in the interests of future generations”. More emissions have been released since that agreement than in all of previous history.
How petty, how small, how childish do those politicians with the temerity to attack Greta Thunberg look! She speaks for science, idealism and hope; they embody an ignorance or cynicism so deep as to constitute depravity.
The ecological disaster that confronts us today extends way beyond climate. Some scientists speak of the “sixth extinction event” – but, as Justin McBrien argued, that phrase isn’t accurate.
We might less euphemistically discuss a “first extermination event”. Nature is not dying so much as being killed, by people who know perfectly well what they’re doing.
The need for protests could not be more urgent – and, at last, they’re happening. The global strike provides a perfect antidote to the despair so many of us have felt for so long. [Continue reading…]