No more heroes

Stop expecting the US to lead the way; they were adrift before the Sea of Trump

Watching Leonardo DiCaprio in Before the Flood being uncomfortably grilled on the American way of overconsumption by Sunita Narain, words landing like hammer blows on his eternally perplexed features, she asked something that made me sit up and pay attention: “what is America going to do about this?” It’s a fair question: given America carries the much-vaunted title of highest-consuming nation (and are past holders of the Biggest Polluter Award), it seems reasonable to expect them to carry the heaviest burden of all in fixing the problem.

Except it isn’t. Read more

A letter from: Donald

A letter from president-elect Donald Trump to the people of the world

 

[Letter dictated but not read, 10/11/2016. Links added by outgoing secretary Janet, because you still owe me two months of backpay.]

Some of you may be shocked to see me about to step into the oval office in a few months, and I can tell you – no-one is more surprised than me. I have the most surprise. But we ran a good race, me and Mike and I. Well mostly me, because Mike doesn’t like to talk so much, do you Mike? It’s a rhetorical question Mike, you don’t have to answer. Read more

The $1 billion drop in a warming ocean

Fossil fuel companies have just pledged to invest one billion dollars in renewable energy investment over the next ten years. Wait, really? The fossil fuel companies? The ones who directly profit from burning ancient marine life and try – sometimes laughably – to smear renewable energy? Why would an industry actively fund its successor / competitor? That’s like handing your girlfriend’s number to the guy who’s been making eyes at her from the bar.

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Death by Air

How long before we treat fossil companies as murderers?

I’ve always thought that ice would make a pretty fine murder weapon, given that it disappears swiftly after you use it. Lava would work well too, though it tends to be in short supply when you most need it, and luring your enemy to an open volcano can be tricky at best. But I feel the modern, cost-effective way to off somebody is to hand them a one-way ticket to parts of India, or Iran, or China, given their current levels of air pollution – true, it may take a while, but at least the trail of evidence leading to your door is slim at best. Besides, there would be plenty of coal company CEOs in line to take the fall before you. Right? Read more

A Climate of ‘Free Speech’

This is our truth; feel free not to tell me yours.

Tom Harris is worried about free speech. He believes we should all have the freedom to disagree with the science on climate change, without being boxed in by all those pesky fact things. After all, it’s not like he’s involved in any organisation that’s supposed to be based in science, right? Oh wait – he’s the head of three. All with suspiciously similar sounding names ending in ‘Climate Science Coalition’; he simply couldn’t make up his mind on where he’s representing, so he settled on International Climate Science Coalition. Which I’d say was a good choice – after all, if you’re going to cherry pick data and make questionably pseudoscientific claims about global warming, it’s best to at least imply you have some international weight behind you.

Mr Harris treats the unprecedented scientific agreement on global warming as if it were that guy in the pub who always knows what’s true because he once met a man who saw it on the Discovery Channel. Read more

Climapathy

‘It’s the end of the world as we know it / And I feel fine…’

Global temperatures are rising at roughly the same rate as global apathy to being told that temperatures are rising – it seems the more we’re told something, the less we care. ‘We get it; global warming is still a thing and we’re all going to die screaming. Ooh, have you seen this kitten video?’

February’s global temperature beat the previous record so comprehensively that it looks like whoever drew the graph developed a sudden twitch, leaving climate scientists scrabbling for any remaining synonyms for ‘shocking’ they can find lying around the office. The Northern hemisphere warmed by an average of close to 2C, something that was previously thought to be decades off at least, and even taking into account the warming effects of el Niño it’s looking like 2016 is going to be the hottest year on record. Again. So what can we do? Read more

Deal / No Deal

Why we might be better off with an imperfect climate deal

Depending on the grapevine you’re tuned in to, the Paris climate deal should have us cheering wildly for a historic deal that will save the world, or rioting in the streets for the moment we were let down by our world leaders when we needed them most. I say it’s the best of both worlds, and here’s why. Read more

Bernie

I know the gigantic, crawling worm can this sentence opens but I’ll stand by it: the US would give more leeway to Mrs Clinton as first female president, just as it gave more to Obama as the first black president.

Obama rode a wave of progressive optimism so high that for a while it towered above his actions; many ignored the fact that he was stocking the White House with corporate-friendly staff, that he failed to close Guantanamo or end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he stood by as banks got billions in bailouts while allowing God knows how many foreclosures. Would we have granted such elbow room to any other incoming president? The achievement peaked on the day of his inauguration, and though the first black president is a mighty achievement it shouldn’t be allowed to hide the fact that – when you get right down to it – he isn’t that progressive at all. My gut tells me Hillary would surf the same sort of wave: ‘First female president! She may be continuing business as usual but by God, she has no Y chromosome!’ Read more

Trump

Donald Trump is fascinating and disgusting in roughly equal measure, like finding mouldy food long-forgotten in the back of your fridge. A manically-coiffured barrel of bigotry and xenophobia, distilled through the years into some sort of Platonic anti-ideal for the right wing, he’s somehow risen high enough to at least be vaguely in the running for one of the most powerful jobs in the world. This should scare you.

Racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, extreme nationalism: these are common traits for those on the far right, but something tells me Donald’s mind contains a purer form of prejudice than most. Somehow he’s fashioned his subconscious into an ideological sump, a foetid low point for the world’s offensive ideas to seep into drip by drip. This would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact he’s bought himself a gigantic, gold-plated microphone and we’re listening to him. Read more

Grief

Paris, Beirut and the Tragedy Hipsters

The second most common question on the internet’s lips about Paris (right after ‘why, you fuckers?’) is ‘aren’t we going to talk about Beirut?’ The Lebanese capital was bombed 24 hours before France but received relatively little attention: why, cry the indignant of Facebook, are we not holding candlelit vigils for their dead? There’s truth here, as Beirut remains pretty dark from the media’s selective spotlight; all deaths are tragic, but some are more tragic than others.

But there’s also an element of one-upmanship, of trying to be the first to acknowledge the suffering of those in the darker corners – hipster grief, if you will. ‘Oh sure, Paris was tragic but everyone’s grieving for them. All the hip cats are reaching out to the Lebanese…’ To be fair, there’s a pretty sizeable number of people who simply think we should hold the same standards for everyone, that Middle-Eastern lives are worth the same as Western ones. But pointing this out should not involve glee, satisfaction or electronic auto-fellation. Jamiles Lartey called it: “some commentators today honestly sound like tragedy hipsters, ‘Bro- I care about tragedy and suffering you’ve never heard of’”. Read more