Arctic Landscape (Photo credit: Polar Cruises)
Climate Change is a phenomenon that most of us like to spend a few minutes worrying about, but it has fallen low down the political agenda over the past five years. This is true of most countries worldwide. We are told that, in times of recession (which a number of right-wing governments seem hell-bent on converting into depressions through premature spending cuts), taking measures to prevent impending environmental doom is a “luxury” that we cannot afford. Any attempts at taking the first baby steps towards putting civilization on a sustainable footing are increasingly doomed: in the US, absurdly inefficient cars are still the norm, despite the fact that they could be so much cheaper to run for virtually no extra cost. Shale gas projects pollute the environment to an extent which causes shocking safety breaches. In Britain, a confederation of nimbies and vested interests has lampooned schemes which promote renewable energy projects. In the meantime, we continue to burn and pollute our collective way towards oblivion.
The typical voter will express concern for the world future generations will inherit. Indeed, by this point, it is the world most under the age of about 40 will live in. But all it takes to reassure them is a couple of speeches and a photo-shoot with some huskies in the Arctic followed by no action, and very few will notice. Green parties across the world have only achieved modest representation in our legislatures, and are largely consigned to the fringes of political debate.
We have tried the strategy of campaigning for the environment by appealing to people’s prudential instincts. Perhaps now we need to review this tactic. The green movement must organize itself as part of a holistic coalition of groups who wish to create a comfortable economic, social and natural environment for us to live in in 2050. As part of that process, investment now in infrastructure that will lower our energy bills, carbon emissions and living costs seems like a good idea. Tugging on people’s heart strings has got us higher recycling rates, now pointing to people’s wallets should get us sustainable energy, transport and services.
If such a campaign does not exist, isn’t it time we launched one? I suggest Planet2050 as a working name.