The only way to tackle the climate crisis is large scale, collective action. Anything else is glorified gardening to make yourself feel better.
We’ve had some choice comments from the government’s COP26 spokesperson, Allegra Stratton, that have pretty much eradicated any faith any of us could have misguidedly held that this government was even remotely serious when it came to doing anything to stop climate breakdown. As I saw someone say on Twitter in the wake of the comments: we should pretty much price in the end of civilisation as we know it if these are the people speaking for the government of one of the largest economies in the world coming up to COP26.
Individualised climate ideology is a mendacious fiction propagated by fossil fuel companies for decades, literally designed to prevent meaningful actions taking place on a wider scale. The idea of a person’s carbon footprint, or the idea of “every little helps”, all came from fossil fuel companies, are literally all nuggets of demobilising propaganda designed to ensure the profits of these environmental arsonists aren’t affected as the apocalyptic consequences of what they’ve done to this planet loom in. I say they, not we, because comparing someone littering to the wholesale environmental degradation of our planet for profit can’t ever be put on the same platform, or be part of the same conversation.
Telling the public to make little changes to their lifestyles is simply a way to make people feel better about themselves, that’s it! It doesn’t do a darn thing. The micro shouldn’t be part of the conversation in any meaningful way when there’s so much macro to address; anyone bringing it into the discussion is absolutely a reactionary with no serious will to address the climate crisis beyond feeling good about themselves and doing some glorified gardening. This ideological approach to climate catastrophe has absolute saturated so many elements of the green movement.
The overwhelming majority of emissions are being caused by those at the very top, and the mega corporations they run; these are the people doing this, not people living their lives.
The question of tackling the climate crisis isn’t one of many individual decisions. Even if everyone could afford to alter their behaviours on their own in this way (many working class people can’t), it wouldn’t even BEGIN to prevent runaway global heating. This isn’t a moral failing of citizens that they must simply stop, this is massive crime against humanity that has been propagated for decades, and covered up for decades, all with greenwashed commitments from corporations and governments. Right now, no government in the world has commitments that are serious enough to address the crisis, and even half decent commitments aren’t being acted on.
The worst kind of climate denial isn’t denial of the crisis itself: we can see how dangerous and ludicrous it is, and as time goes on it seems to be shrinking as people see for themselves we’re in real trouble; you’ll always have denialists for anything, be it COVID, climate change, or genocides, fringe groups of people like to deny things that are right in front of them so they can feel some sort of control over a cruel and rapidly deteriorating society. We’re past “believing the facts”, and “climate change is real”. We have a US administration in power in Washington now that says all these things, and the dangerous thing is they’re barely taking more action than the last guys, fully relying on private finance to do something that everyone accepts will require mass state intervention to reshape the economy, including even the collapse of market economies as we know them.
In short, the real villains aren’t the denialist lunatics that will look more and more ridiculous in years to come. No, they are the supposed science lead technocrats such as President Biden that pledge to fix the crisis, put more naïve environmentalists (not radical climate movements) and importantly the media at ease, and win plaudits for “believing science” and “speaking truth” all while sitting atop the system bringing about the demise of civilisation and doing virtually nothing meaningful about it. Joe Biden is a bigger danger to the environment than Donald Trump, because at least under Trump it was clear how ideologically committed to climate breakdown in the interests of profit our leaders were, while under Biden complacency is ushered in by the dull buzz of corporate greenwashing.
Mass collective action, brought about by radical movements pressuring those in power until they have no other choice, coupled with radical movements seizing the apparatus of the state, is the only way to address this crisis. Time is running out.