BLOG: So everyone agrees the house is on fire... but why is no one heading for the door?

January 28, 2021 7:53 PM

Jan HarwoodOnce upon a time, when I was a little greener around the edges (2013), whilst working in a lab, in a basement with no windows, I thought I felt a change in the air. Climate change was getting the recognition I thought it deserved. It was in the news and in the minds of the public. I thought to myself, how lucky I was to be involved in the clean energy research project I was working on. Of course, shortly after that moment the Government's gradually tightening chokehold on UK research funding finally had the ohh so shocking result of forcing me out of research. I went on to sell my soul for a couple of years in the corporate world, like a good little tax paying citizen.

So here we are, I am back to making almost no money and shouting at politicians on the tv again… apart from there is a slight difference… I also get to shout at them in person as new-ish member of the club.

I'm really happy to see the results of a recent poll which shows two thirds of people around the world see "Climate Change" as a global emergency. I mean the doctor already provided the diagnosis in the late 90's (it would have been earlier but he got stuck in the hallway with a couple of overweight Oil Executives and it took a while to slip past). Then we thought it was a good idea to get a second opinion, because you know, you don't want to rush into rash decisions (scientific consensus on the topic was and remains remarkable). Then we asked all the nurses because without them the whole place falls apart anyway. They all agreed with the original diagnosis. But it was not enough to feel confident yet I guess. So we then asked all the support staff, even the hospital accountant and the janitors; what did he think of this diagnosis. Fortunately, they felt it was not a complicated case and they all agreed with the original diagnosis too. BUT, still the confidence was not there. So we asked the patients, and hell even the people just walking in the vicinity of the hospital. A global poll, to get a feel for things. SO, it seems we have consensus on the diagnosis. The hospital is indeed on fire and has been for some time. Couple of the wings/forests have burnt down but hey, at least we can feel confident that there is, definitely, without a doubt, 100% a fire, currently underway as of this moment. In other news, water prices are up (in this analogy and in the real world!!!).

Here is my question; why is nobody heading to the door? Where are the fire marshals arranging an orderly evacuation? Where is the fire department? Why is Bob the hospital accountant still sitting in his desk, having just confirmed the presence of a fire which is now gently warming his fingers as his favourite stapler melts under the flames? WORSE YET, why is Bob currently doing the procurement of the hospitals new centre for disease control, and why has he decided the best building material is matchsticks? This analogy is starting to break down… but I think I've made my point. It is not actually Bob's fault. I am not attempting to occupy some moral high ground and point fingers for blame. It is not any single person's fault because the fire isn't just at this imaginary hospital… the fire station is also on fire, so is the fire trucks and so is the mayors office… infact EVERYTHING is on fire.

Therein lies the ultimate problem, being on fire is now normal. I think we have all experienced how quickly extraordinary circumstances can become the new normal over the last year. The COVID pandemic has shown us that it only takes a couple of months of lockdown for us to adapt and accept. That is what has happened with the Climate Change Crisis. It has been normalised due to the complexity and enormity of the challenge.

Nobody knows where to start. Which bit of EVERYTHING on fire do you extinguish first? Do we even know what not being on fire looks like? In part 2 of this blog we delve deeper into that.

This is why I am so mad; Would it not be great if say we had a method of collectively choosing some members of our society to represent us at a higher level of decision making. They could perhaps, for example, determine the best course of action on complex problems like climate change. They could then act as the Fire Marshals we so desperately need in the face of this global crisis. They would need to have some appreciation for the scale of the problem and so prioritise accordingly. We would need them to show true leadership in a critical moment for our species…

Unfortunately, Boris and the Conservative party are a bit busy (and have been for some time) still having a chat with those rather rotund Oil, Gas and Coal Executives, who are still blocking the corridor back in that hospital… as it burns down slowly (but at an accelerating rate)… If Boris was my fire marshal, I would not invest in ice cream cones. I don't think the fire is getting put out anytime soon..

I'm not saying its criminal negligence… but I'm not not saying it either…