Unnaturally extreme Natural devastation in the Philippines has, quite rightly, led to the usual outpouring of sympathy. It will be short-term as it always is. Media focus will move onto more important things soon enough – a celebrity with a new shade of nail varnish. But the immediate givingness is impressive and speaks well of human instinct. What seems almost impossible to achieve is the giving up. Giving up the endless shopping for crap, the one-person car journeys, the unnecessary short car trips, the overheated house (though that one may be coming to an end – see last week’s blog), the wasting of food, the chucking of chemicals down the sink and toilet, the pollution of the atmosphere by industry feeding our need for cheap products and so on ad infinitum.
The hurricane that decimated much of the Philippine archipelagos was the fastest EVER to make landfall. The usual split between rich survivors and poor victims was not as marked because even the properties of the wealthier inhabitants did not totally withstand the onslaught.
News groups were on the ground almost as fast as the tornado, asking the bereaved and injured ‘how do you feel’ (for heaven’s sake) and launching in with the criticism of aid agencies and governments. The fact is there is no way you can legislate against a hurricane and there is no preparedness for destruction on this scale. My local council can’t keep dog shit off the pavements (or cars) lord knows how they would cope if my house were obliterated by a typhoon. News reports have followed like lightening with disapproval of government corruption and mismanagement, which of course in this civilised democracy we’d know nothing about (unless of course you are thinking of the police / politicians / journalists / banks / planning authorities...).
It is our fault. We are ruining the planet, and not just in ways that result in dramatic headline-grabbing destruction. In many ways that are ongoing and possibly irreversible.
This week ecologists tried to make a headline out of the increasing acidity of the world’s oceans. Crustaceans are unable to form shells, fish are malformed and unable to breed, coral reefs dissolving. Never mind what is going on above sea level – if the oceans are knackered – we are all doomed. The ice caps, vital for global environmental stability are being melting and the forests, vital for the air we breathe, are being hacked away year by year.
I propose that climate change deniers should inhabit the same category as holocaust deniers. Hitler carried out mass slaughter in Europe. Climate change is fundamentally the fault of developed nations and unfairly impacts on poor ones and is killing the entire planet prematurely.
While we are being distracted by rich babies and their dim parents and celebrity break ups and who said what to whom in the media, the planet is groaning. Mother Nature is crippled and screaming for help but going unheard, like the victims of Bhopal (there will be a blog on that).
One thing I did not expand on in last week’s rant about the energy companies was the smoke screen debate about the green levy. AS we know the big 6 energy companies tried to blame the governments’ green levy for their price hikes. The lily-livered government seems to be kowtowing to the tantrum thrown by the energy companies’ share holders, and is going to backslide on even this pathetic fig leaf of a policy.
Meanwhile, before typhoid has even set in, the BBC is debating the question of aid to disaster-struck and poor countries when ‘we’ are suffering austerity. Well some of us are (see blogs 16, 18, 24, 35, 49).
Frankly when I heard that The Moral Maze (let no catastrophe go to waste with the national 6th form debating society) was to question whether disaster prone foreigners should get our tax money I thought they must be referring to HRH Phil the Greek. Sadly, no.
This won’t go away. And you know what? Being less manic in our consumption wouldn’t only benefit poor countries it would do wonders for the physical and mental health of people in the West; improving our waste lines would improve our waist lines as the saying goes.
Thanks for all the funky comments about the cartoons. There are two to accompany this week’s blog post – got o ‘view my profile’ Thanks.