Our current situation regarding the fate of this planet is not a particularly positive one. We are veering towards a dangerous position, in the midst of a climate crisis which is dictating our future. As much as I wish this reality were false – there is no longer any room for wishful thinking – we must be pragmatic as we become ever more entrenched within this global crisis.
I, for one, am a believer in cold, hard facts. Expertise on this matter is imperative if we are to overcome what is in store. Although I may not feel warmed or optimistic at the prospect of cutting down my meat intake, prioritising public transport, or giving up my dreams of jet-setting across continents, I realise that my concession of these luxuries is urgently made. No one is forcing me to do this. Not even the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (my favourite power couple) could have persuaded me to stop eating red meat. It is the sheer unadulterated reality of this planet’s potential destruction which spurs me on.
There is no time left for an approach which centres in on the upkeep of what the middle-class deems “comfortable.” It is too late to pit all of our hopes on developing technology, the improvement of infrastructure, or the advent of an innovative answer to this planet’s impending destruction. It is imperative that those accustomed to living comfortably make concessions. Those with the privilege to do so have a responsibility for those without such options. It is not too much to ask that those with the capacity or the means to do so to skip out on steak dinners or swap motorways for railways when this planet’s existence relies upon it.
The history of the climate crisis and its ties to industrialisation is, as ever, filled to the brim with complexity. Yes, the working-classes were the champions of an industrial future – but it is for the wealthy that this has really paid off. Appropriated by the few, the left’s movement against what they previously fought for has a palpable explanation: it is those at the bottom who will feel this crisis most deeply. By the time the damaging impact of green-house gasses was beginning to be realised, large quantities of wealth had been built upon their usage. The experts offered up the facts, but those at the top refused to listen.
Now more than ever, it is the wealthy who have the opportunity and the privilege to take on responsibility as the world’s sustainable consumers. A zero-waste lifestyle is expensive yet critical; this is not a matter of impinging upon human rights. If we carry on as we are doing, humanity will not exist to enjoy these rights. We must change our relationship with the planet. It is not a resource to be exhausted, but rather an entity of collaboration. It is the focus upon the privileged, upon individual luxury and comfort, which hinders progress. We must all work together to support each other – now is not the time to be selfish.
Branding the exposition of facts and unwelcome truths as “scaremongering” or “gloomy” is a weathered, exhaustive, yet dangerous, argument. The gravity of this matter cannot be stressed enough and to trivialise it is to hinder its progress. The left and right divide is rendered defunct by such circumstances. We must take this crisis head on. Whether we like it or not, it is happening. The chance to uphold the luxuries which the middle-classes now brand necessary is long gone – we should have listened to the experts. This is a problem which cannot be compartmentalised.