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Don't panic! Freaking out about climate change leading to the end of the world doesn’t do any good

Charlie Stone
Charlie Stone

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

Don't panic! Freaking out about climate change leading to the end of the world doesn’t do any good
As we emerge from our bunkers post-lockdown, people are replacing pandemic anxiety with renewed fears about the climate. But assuming the world’s doomed will only hasten its demise. Chill. We’re finding ways to clean up the mess.

The world is opening up again, and people have replaced pandemic distress with worries that the world is merely re-opening upon... The End. The final chapter. Our doom and demise.

John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special climate envoy, met Pope Francis in the Vatican at the weekend ostensibly to discuss the climate crisis. But maybe he was really there just to discuss the last rites for the world, the Catholic faith’s final prayers for the sick just before dying?

Lockdown was simply a prelude, the beginning of the end, now comes the final sequence of the disaster movie. 

The ice caps are melting, the crazy-eyed president of Brazil is out there right now with a flame-thrower personally burning down the Amazon. China and India are spewing ever more poison into the atmosphere to make iPhones, sex toys and the latest TV sets. And thousands of fat Arab princelings are selling as much oil as they can so they can buy bigger yachts. They’re gonna need them because the rising sea levels will soon have flooded their palaces in the desert.

Oh, and I read the other day that the stratosphere is shrinking now too, and this could soon send satellites in a bit of a spin. That’s something to look forward to.

People are huddling together in groups again and talking about these things with a real sense of post-lockdown alarm. Watch your head though, a falling satellite might have your name on it.

‘Climate cafes’ are the latest thing, “a simple, hospitable, empathetic space where fears and uncertainties about our climate crisis can be safely expressed.” Folks from all over the world meet here virtually to share their thoughts on our impending doom. 

I joined in one, too, at around the same time as the Pope and Kerry were working out all our funeral arrangements in the Vatican. Maybe a couple of dozen warm, friendly people poured themselves a coffee and grabbed a few biscuits then settled down in front of their screens for a nice chit-chat about the end of the world. 

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It started with attendees holding up something that defines how they feel about all this, a dead flower or a fallen leaf maybe. I held up a face mask to my laptop camera. Because, well, it kind of sums up where we’re heading – we won’t be able to breathe if we have no atmosphere to exist in.

People are genuinely worried about the health of their kids and their grandkids in particular, should these generations even bother reproducing if the future is so bleak? It just seems so dark and foreboding out there right now and what, really, can the average Joe and Jane personally do anyway? 

Not much, is the brutal truth. Change has to be global, governmental. Many people worrying about all this feel impotent and a wee bit numb. Plenty of people, understandably, just switch off. 

One lady from a small town in Europe was angry at herself that a pretty tree in her room was actually plastic. She held it aloft. “It’s not real, how can I allow this in here?” she lamented. Another cafe guest from the US worried about how the Western world can possibly cope with “the imminent avalanche of climate refugees.” 

Most other climate cafe compadres were worried about their kids and how to convince their family and friends about the dangers. All very human concerns.

Nobody, though – anywhere in the world, I would suggest – really knows what can be done on a personal level. Not anything that would make a significant difference, anyway. Talk is easy. But we don’t, individually, have our hands on the steering wheel. We just don’t, despite what Extinction Rebellion campaigners might tell you to the contrary.

My own personal reaction tends to be rage; it can be useful though. I get mightily pissed off, for example, by litter. More so now than I ever did, but it has always angered me a fair bit. 

There’s a McDonald’s not far from my house and the front of it is always strewn with paper bags and paper cups, straws, Big Mac wrappers and McFlurry ice cream cartons. Even more so lately because people haven’t been allowed to eat this disgusting crap inside, where staff clean up after the feeding frenzy is done.

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The sight of this litter blowing around all over the place makes me want to slap the offenders about the head with it, then maybe ram it all into their underwear to take home. Why do they just drop these things to the floor? I don’t get it. Why can’t they even be arsed to walk five metres to put it in the bin? ‘Walk off some of that deep-fried ‘food’, get some exercise you fat f*****...’ 

Anyway, climate change or no climate change, dropping your waste at your feet is simply disrespect for where you live and the other people who live there alongside you. 

To my mind, this human trait – to just discard waste without even a second’s thought, to dump in the ocean or spew into the skies – is precisely the root cause, it is the beginning and the end of the whole issue. It’s exactly the same thing, just on a global scale.

Anyway, the 90-minute climate cafe chat was done. The coffee was drunk and the biscuits swallowed. And we all went our separate ways. 

I simply don’t buy this end of the world theory, however, I simply don’t. Not because I refuse to believe the science and the evidence of climate change. No. It’s clearly a fact, the evidence is overwhelming. To say otherwise is plain old stupid or wilful ignorance. 

Personally, though, you won’t find me joining the Extinction Rebellion (XR) mob. It might be quite good fun breaking windows with a chisel and going on marches and all that but it’ll achieve… nothing. They’ll just have to make more glass to replace the windows these woke warriors broke, they’ll have to burn fossil fuels to get the repair trucks there and back, etc.

In fact, I reckon XR is rapidly becoming part of the problem because the vast majority of people are turned off by them and their preachy and publicity-seeking ways. It does make people listen, but NOT to them – XR’s actions make the bovine counter-argument more appealing; that climate change is some sort of gigantic conspiracy theory.

Listen though, guys and gals, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. It’s gonna be alright! DON’T PANIC! 

Humanity is, finally, on the case. We will find solutions, it’s what we do. And we can, in fact, slap those proverbial kids about the head when they drop their wrappers on the floor – again, I mean globally speaking. There’s a big meeting of old men, world leaders (it’s mostly old blokes), in Glasgow later this year. That’s the best place to start.

These world leaders need to find ways to make it very uncomfortable to drop those McDonald’s wrappers, as it were. Burning coal needs to end, for starters. Loads of stuff can be done, and loads of stuff is ALREADY being done.

More than 50% of new cars in Norway are now electric, the Scandinavians often get there first. New petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK by 2030. That’s less than a decade away. A blink of an eye, in historical terms. 

The climate wasn’t damaged in an afternoon, so it’ll take more than a day or two to put things right. But chill, it’s in hand. We, as a species, can plant more trees. We can send out an army of gardeners with sacks full of seeds for an amazing bush that could grow along the roads. Cotoneaster just loves absorbing that lovely CO2, it’s a treat. And she emits oxygen.

Action, global action, is on the way and it’s the ONLY way that will actually work.

None of those 200 world leaders want to meet in Glasgow in November to discuss how they’re slowly strangling their grandchildren; they’re human too. 

For sure, there will be a lot of noise outside by the XR crowd, they’ll glue themselves to presidential limousines or private jets or whatever. Who cares. It’ll be funny to watch burly Glasgow Airport security staff peeling these wokeys away from Chairman Xi Jinping’s fuselage. Go ahead, boys and girls (apply the pronoun of your choice), enjoy yourselves. 

It’s actually what’s going on inside that’ll save the world.

Lockdown helped keep the air clean and saved lives, albeit briefly. There are lots of reasons to be hopeful about the future, Earth is a self-cleaning organism. She’s gonna be fine, in the end. We just have to give her a helping hand, or she will shake us off like a dose of fleas, dust herself down – and carry on without us.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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