I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
I don’t usually write things like this. In fact, I spend a lot of time telling Husband to shut up when he writes/rants on about it. I nearly throttled him at a wedding the weekend before last when a couple of fellow guests – the parents of a small child, and with another one very much on the way – kept pushing at him to ‘give us a year’ for the climate-change-induced end of Western civ. In this instance, it was their fault; the woman’s eight-month bump firmly in his eyeline, Husband was definitely attempting to get out of the conversation. Because a lot of people, even the ones who read the scary articles about cracking glaciers and melting sea ice in the Grauniad, still seem to think that we’re talking centuries, not decades. And even if we are talking decades, they think we’re talking 8 or 9, not 2 or 3.
The bit I feel the need to get out of my system right now, though, is the second part of how that conversation always goes. Because when those same Guardian-readers get onto what life might look like when things go really tits-up, so many of them seem to have a vision akin to The Good Life meets Transition Towns. Growing your own veg, solar panels, recycling clothes – a kind of boho-peasant existence with some fluffy ideas about ‘local’ and ‘community’ thrown in.
Which is pretty fucking bonkers, really. There is plenty of documentation out there as to some of the likely impacts of large-scale climate change – desertification, water shortages, agricultural collapse, massive migration induced by starvation and water wars. UKIP’s potential electorate gets pretty aerated about current levels of migration, induced by conflict and the desire for basics like jobs and dignity. What do people think it’s going to be like when the home countries of those migrants go from being difficult and unpleasant to exist in to literally unliveable – when those migrating are the survivors of mass, millions-upon-millions starvation and the bloody fight for survival?
Occasionally the survivalists pitch in with ideas about communities that will have to defend themselves – The Good Life, but with machine gun emplacements. Fort Anarcho-Hippy, somewhere in the Peak District or the Brecon Beacons, out of reach of the sea level rises. The flaw in this one is that those bastards who are currently running the state and the army and the corporations aren’t going to disappear – and they’re going to have a lot more military hardware than some lefties who have stashed some old hunting rifles along with the porridge oats and baked beans.
A lot of people have asked, over the years, why Husband and I have chosen not to have children. My answer has generally been that I’m just not very maternal, and there are a lot of other things I want to do in my life. Husband is the one whose decision not to have kids has largely been impelled by a vision of the impending apocalypse. But there’s something I find particularly troubling in the type of thought that seems to be spreading, a kind of new ostrich syndrome where one can deny having one’s head stuck in the sand because one admits that climate change is a-comin’, but where a new form of denial has emerged, about what that actually means. Think Somalia. Think Iraq. Think failed states and dog-eat-dog. We’re not going to be able to crochet our way out of this one.