If we want someone to blame for Storm Callum, we should start by examining our own hypocrisy
Politicians respond to political pressure, and companies respond to consumer demand – we can all do more
Storm Callum. The "Beast from the East". One of the hottest summers on the planet since records began. Deadly typhoons in the Philippines. A tsunami, earthquakes and flooding in Indonesia. Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Florence. Storm Leslie. It seems we can’t go a week without another “natural” disaster devastating part of the planet.
And who is to blame? Why, Hurricane Donald Trump, of course (also responsible for Stormy Daniels, more harmlessly). At least according to popular opinion among environmentalists, it seems. Why, you ask?
First, because he pulled the world’s second largest consumer of energy, America, out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. As we all know. So even if he obviously arrived too late to stop the previous two centuries of industrial development, he has taken a clear decision to do as little as possible about limiting further damage.
Second, because it’s easy.
Too easy in fact. Precisely because he didn’t personally start trashing the planet from around the mid-eighteenth century onwards. And, after all, he didn’t stage a military coup to seize power. He was voted in by Americans – albeit only 46 per cent of the voters. They pretty much knew what they were getting. They deserve their share of the blame too.
There is no great satisfaction to be gained from reflecting that some of the hardest Trumpites will lose businesses and property through climate change in the coming years. Nor that Trump’s own retreat at Mar-a-Lago in Florida may be a write-off by the time Ivanka is her dad’s age. Tempting, I know but we need to be grown up.
We’re all in this together.
In fact the best way to see more climate change averted is to recognise that we are all culpable, and could do vastly more personally, rather than just waiting for government action. Stamping your feet about Trump or launching baby balloons of him into the sky absolves no one of personal responsibility – especially if you fancy yourself to be jolly environmentally aware. No one wants to be a hypocrite, do they?
So here’s a few questions, if you think yourself so responsible and green, and think it’s all down to Trump, the Tories, Big Oil and fracking. You know where I am going with this, I’m sure, but still, here are ten things to ponder:
1. Do you own a car or cars? Are any electric? Hybrids don't really count, by the way.
2. Do you fly abroad for holidays or business?
3. Are you one of those people who has spent these last years feeling underdressed in public unless you’re carrying a cup of extra skinny latte or something around with you, usually branded?
4. Ditto a plastic bottle of water?
5. Do you vote Green?
6. How much do you recycle?
7. Are you a vegan? Even vegetarian?
8. If you are veggie or vegan, do you, say, eat mange tout flown in from Kenya, or nuts and fruit driven all the way from southern Europe or the Middle East by diesel powered lorries?
9. Do you use a green energy supplier even if the tariffs are higher?
10. Do you have kids?
In other words, have you actually reflected on your own personal carbon footprint before slagging off Trump or BP or car companies or the supermarkets?
Trump responds to political pressure, Big and small companies respond to consumer demand, and we can all do more.
I’m happy to admit my mild hypocrisy here, like a lapsed Catholic acknowledging sin (that too). But if we were all a little less sanctimonious and tokenistic (reusable cups and shopping bags are fine if they're actually reused, but many people seem to readily forget) perhaps we could achieve real change.
As it goes, I respect, even admire, those green campaigners whose lives are literally less comfortable because of the sacrifices they choose to make. The rest of us need to be a bit more like them, and do a bit more than just hate politicians and businesses.
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