Here in Europe there is a palpable, collective sigh of relief. The heat wave, it is at last being proclaimed, is over. Life can return to normal and the “all-clear” has been sounded, so to speak. In an unbelievable act of climate science amnesia, Britain’s recent foray into temperatures in excess of 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit) will shortly be forgotten. Until next time, of course. And next time is going to be a little worse.
Year on year record temperatures are being set all over the world. When four of the five hottest temperatures in history all happened in the last decade, everyone ought to sit up and take notice. But few seem to notice. And where exactly are these record temperatures happening? Everywhere.
What is going to have to happen to get people to take seriously the climate crisis we are in? I do not know. I only know that whatever it’s going to take hasn’t happened yet.
I recently came across a meme that said, in effect, that the most serious problem facing America today is the attempt to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021. In a comment to the meme I wrote, “With all due respect, January 6th was bad, but it’s just window dressing next to the climate crisis we are neglecting right now.” Somebody responded with a laughing emoji.
It hasn’t sunk in yet. We are in the midst of an extinction level event. And it’s one we can prevent. And few are taking it seriously enough,
Our prostrate dependence on fossil fuel has also got us in an economic mess. We are petrol junkies desperate for another fix. Because our very economic livelihood is tied to this moribund source of energy that is running out and is horribly bad for the planet, we are instant victims of its every vicissitude. Now is the time to focus all of our effort on cultivating alternative fuel resources.
The forces of ignorance arrayed against us are heavily funded and working overtime. The myth created by the degenerate Republicans in thrall to the oil lobby is that global warming is a liberal hoax. Even though many of them no longer believe that the damage it did when that false narrative held sway is still in evidence. It is a narrative that is still doing damage among the low-information Fox News-watching rabble, even in light of successive years of record temperatures. Because people believe what they want to believe, and lies are hard to untell.
It’s time for us to start taking climate change more seriously, before the convection feedback loop starts sending days so hot that they are no longer survivable. To be sure, let’s not forget the devastation done to Roe, the January 6 attempted coup d’etat, the unjust war in Ukraine. But we need to start treating climate change as if it’s our number one problem — because it is. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.