Aug 242020

You know the feeling, I’m sure, of walking as fast as you can without making any headway at all; you will have done it in dreams – nightmares, perhaps.

That is what it must feel like to be a climate activist. The facts and figures are all there, out in the open for all to see, yet all we talk about now is Covid. Even before Covid, all the media was concerned about was growth and the GDP – as if GDP reflected the welfare of a country.

Remember who owns the media? On issues in which owners have a major financial stake, the media cannot be trusted. Such issues include, you will remember, the sale and smoking of tobacco, arms trade, gun control, oil extraction and trade, national health insurance, unethical practices on the part of the pharmaceutical industry… and climate change. If a major industrial or financial player is aversely affected by media coverage, it will retaliate powerfully, as sure as winter used to follow summer.

Anyway, if you really want to concentrate on viruses, we can now worry about more than Covid. In the province of Seville, for instance, they are now grappling with West Nile Virus, with 32 patients hospitalised so far, one or two already dead.

I just read a piece in the Guardian about Extinction Rebellion (XR) a movement I never took very seriously because the media here portrayed it as extremist; the media would do just that of course (remember who owns the media?). Yes, XR did indeed advocate civil disobedience (peaceful civil disobedience, that is), but I understand now that it had every reason to do so, and rather than explain that, I refer to the article in the Guardian.

It seems, still according to the Guardian, that XR has been weakened and splintered by internal discord on tactical matters, but I suspect and hope they’ll get up on their feet again, and I urge you to listen to a “talk” given in 2019 by one of the XR founders.

We’ve assumed that at some point, sooner or later, when the planet has been battered by yet another hurricane or flood or hellish conflagration, such as the ones we saw recently in Australia, our politicians and their voters would finally come out of their denialist torpor, and say “This has got to stop.” But no, now California is burning, and all our politicians and their voters can manage is an exasperated sigh: “California is burning again.” The keyword here is: again.

Yep, we’ve gotten used to it. We have hurricanes, and floods and conflagrations again and again and again. We’re already expecting more pandemics and are, in short, sliding down an increasingly slippery, increasingly steep slope. Dazed and in a dream-like condition, we bravely and stupidly adapt to the acceleration.

We used to have to deal with outright denialism: the dreamer believes that human activities have little or no part in climate change. Now we have to contend with oblique denialism: the dreamer is a techno-optimist and believes that technology will stop the downward slide.

As a rule, I’m not in favour of civil disobedience in Democratic countries. I prefer using the instruments embedded in the “social contract” (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique) that underlie Democratic government. However, it has become eminently clear that our governments are failing us in one issue after another.

Whereas major industrial and financial players may have practically unlimited power, whereas they may own 10% of the all the planet’s wealth, we, the rest of us, are the vast majority. Our lives and futures are at stake. I put to you that our lives and futures are vastly more important and valuable than all the shares and financial assets in the world.

We are the majority stakeholders; we just don’t know that, yet, thanks to the media (remember who owns the media).

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