A short history of the climate (lack of) movement
“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals.
But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing
the production of fossil fuels.
Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
– Antonio Guterres- secretary-general of the United Nations
On the 23rd of June 1988 Jim Henson, one of seven children of a tenant farmer and chief climatologist at N.A.S.A. no less, told a U.S. congressional hearing that that human activity was effecting the weather,
“I can confidently state that major greenhouse climate changes are a certainty. The global warming predicted in the next 20 years will make the Earth warmer than it has been in the past 100,000 years.”
Bill had deliberately chosen to address the congressional hearing in the middle of summer when folks would be more concerned about extreme heat. However, He could not have known in advance that mother nature would conveniently make 1988 the hottest year ever recorded in human history, creating an unprecedented heat wave in June of that year and June 23rd of all days, the hottest day ever recorded.
That news went viral, as we say these days.
From that day on no one but a hermit living all alone deep in an impenetrable forest could claim ignorance of ‘global warming.’ (unless that forest was growing in their own mind)
From that day on the good folks of the world (that’s us) immediately set about addressing the issue at hand. In national polls, a majority of Americans said that they thought the greenhouse effect was “very serious” or “extremely serious,” and that they personally worried “a fair amount” or even “a great deal” about global warming. Fewer than one-fifth said they worried “not at all” or had no opinion. The U.S. Congress saw a flurry of activity as some 32 bills dealing with climate were introduced.
People bowed to sadness and guilt as we realized that we had “taken a hammer to the most perfectly proportioned of sculptures.” – Bill McGibbon
Even Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, a woman not known for her radical greenie attitudes, stated to the UN general assembly in November 1989,
“What we are now doing to the world … is new in the experience of the Earth. It is mankind and his activities that are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways. The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto. Change to the sea around us, change to the atmosphere above, leading in turn to change in the world’s climate, which could alter the way we live in the most fundamental way of all.
“The environmental challenge that confronts the whole world demands an equivalent response from the whole world. Every country will be affected and no one can opt out. Those countries who are industrialised must contribute more to help those who are not.”
Don Jessop, a Liberal senator for South Australia, made this statement in parliament:
“It is quite apparent to world scientists that the silent pollutant, carbon dioxide, is increasing in the atmosphere and will cause us great concern in the future. Of course, I am putting a case for solar energy. Australia is a country that can well look forward to a very prosperous future if it concentrates on solar energy right now.”
The whole world woke up!
In 1992 we held The Earth Summit in Rio De Janiero. The good folks of the world made a solemn pledge to fix the problem A.S.A.P. Then we put the alarm on snooze and went back to our blissful slumber.
So what went wrong?
Well the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, giving the corporate oligarchs of ‘the free world’ free reign to take over ever corner of the globe that had so far resisted their ardent advances. Drunk with power, wallowing in their profligate excess, the oligarchs brought with them a brand new ideaology, Neo-Liberalism! Government and regulations will be eviscerated, stomped into the ground and shat upon. The free market in all its awesome glory, unfettered and unchallenged, will solve all of the problems of the world, and global warming is not one of them. Enriching the atmosphere with co2 is a darn good thing for agriculture and for civilization in general. Get with the program!
Here in Sleepy Hollow, a backwater in the flow of global grappling of what-the fuck-is-going-on out there. We are still trying to wrap our feeble brains around daylight saving, let alone the vastly complex science of climate change, but heaven forbid that stop us putting in our two bobs worth. Meanwhile way back then when our profound ignorance of global events, especially climate events, was reaching its zenith, something unusual was taking place.
On an isolated island off an island at the bottom of world, a seed was beginning to take root. A small but passionate group of ‘greenies’ were nurturing a movement that would one day sweep the globe. That movement would come to be known as The Greens, the same party that now shares power in the most powerful country in Europe.
The Australian Greens was founded way back in 1992, by Bob Brown of course, who else?
Well lots of other people actually, but Bob is the only one we remember. God bless him.
Way back in 1992 the amount of carbon we had pumped into the sky since the beginning of ‘civilization’ was a mere 10 gigatons. That’s 10 billion tons, or a 10 with 9 zeros after it. 10,000,000,000, or …a lot!
If everybody in the whole world had voted for the Greens way back then, climate change would probably be just another manageable problem, not the imminent existential crisis that confronts us all, every day of our lives.
The amount of carbon in the sky is now 36 gigatons… and rising. It will keep rising inexorably
until the day we stop pumping it in. Our beloved leaders promise that day will come sometime in the next generation, after most of them are dead and rotting in their graves.
But we, the peoples of the world did not place action on the climate crisis number 1 on our ballot papers way back in 1992 did we? Just as we will refuse to put action on the climate crisis number 1 tomorrow.
That is simply because we all have other far more important issues in our lives.
Over the years, years becoming generations, we have gradually been forced by the relentless forces of nature to place ever more importance on that intractable problem that just refuses to go away. But our comprehension of the enormity of the disaster we are grappling with is always just a little too late. We are always playing catch-up.
We muster all our strength and powers of persuasion and co-operation to come up with agreements to take the bull by the horns, but all that faffing about takes so long that the beautiful pacts we sign with our exquisite fountain pens are obsolete the moment the ink has dried.
Why just last year we all helped sign our latest Mass Suicide Pact. We all agreed, hands on hearts, to fob off the problem for yet another entire generation. An entire generation before we even reach peak destruction. An entire generation before we even begin the clean up operation. Then we all sat back in our Jason recliners with a hot toddy and a sense of satisfaction to watch the ensuing spectacle. When the shit hits the fan, as it surely will, most of the old white men who signed that pact will be rotting in the grave. By the time that shit hits that fan it is nigh on impossible to get it back in the cow. You shameless morally bankrupt old bastards have no right to inflict your whims upon the seven billion people who have to endure the consequence of your arrogant hubris after you are dead.
You, the walking dead, have no right to rule over the living!
In the imortal words of that visionary Greta Thumberg,
“How dare you! “