Storm Babet: justifying the end of the world?

I do hope all those reading this have been unaffected by the recent Storm Babet. Although many of us got away relatively unharmed, only having to deal with the unpleasant experience of walking home from lectures with wet socks, we must remember how this storm, like others before, was ultimately a fatal one. The BBC reports that at least 7 people were killed in the resulting floods, with the calculated damage not yet finalised. But no matter the figure, the deadliest consequence of Babet is not weather-related. 

It is apathy. Apathy, which rained down last week, last month, last year. It is apathy which is currently raining down as this goes into edit (Storm Ciarán made landfall on Monday, 1stNovember). Apathy, which has been cultivated by the unrelenting exposure to extreme weather events. And if the autumn of 2023 has been that of a hot bath (October was one of the hottest on record) now dangerously overflowing, then the summer was that of a fire. It almost seemed a weekly occurrence that another devastating wildfire was carving a new path through the global cartography. Akin to a global conquest, a war against an unbeatable enemy with the ability to spawn from nothing and consume everything. Canada, Greece, Hawaii. We watched as people, animals, buildings, homes, plants, and the planet, burned; and we watched as politicians shamelessly stared into News cameras, backdropped by scenes of smouldering devastation, and told us ‘we are doing everything we can.’ Everything expect adequately commit to green policies. Apathy has been caused by a loss of trust in our administrations. Namely, they can no longer protect us—and that it is not even in their interests to do so. 

This October was ushered in by the now infamous Conservative Party Conference. For those with the opinion that the party will soon meet its end at the next general election, this event could be considered its death rattle. In their attempt to cling to relevancy, the Tories have truly jumped the shark, drunkenly swan-diving into its open jaws and cementing themselves proudly in their declaration within the Culture War. And blatant transphobia aside, naturally this has led to the reversal of many green policies, justified as being the first step at fighting back against the Net-Zero “conspiracy”. It was only natural that climate change denial would be a primary talking point. And it was confirmed by the Environment Secretary Therese Coffey brazenly downplaying a connection between Storm Babet and climate change. Whilst unsurprising, it was a shocking reminder of the current state of the UK. 

Apathy has been caused by a loss of trust in our administrations. Namely, they can no longer protects us—and that it is not even in their interests to do so.

It has become apparent the Conservative Party has chosen to utilise the Culture War to help achieve their goals, or rather, to distract from their achievements lack thereof. Which is the same thing, in Tory-Speak. By stoking the flames of “Wokism”, “Transgenderism” or whatever non-issue they can hijack public discourse with, the Tories have been able to beguile the public from their internationally-condemned policies. For example, Suella Braverman’s immigration policies, or more accurately anti-refugee policies. And alongside it, the noxious rhetoric designed to polarise, to scare, and to ultimately turn the public partisan. It is a strategy designed to excuse the failure of the post-Brexit and Austerity governments, with just enough hints of fascism so the public know who to blame. I can imagine the satirical exchanges: 

“How can we tackle Climate Change? How can we save the world” the Tories ask themselves. “Shall we ask the Greens—no, no,” before deciding their conflict of interests disable them from tackling Climate Change. “What can we do, then? To stay in power? Ooh, I know! Let’s manufacture a narrative in which we present refugees and transgender people as dangerous and tell everyone we will protect them through “Law and Order.”” Suddenly then, it’s “Climate Change! What’s that? A Neo-Liberal scheme designed to harm you, the Voter.” You get the idea.

This is the politics of distraction; and the politics of a failing government. Lies, scapegoating and the endorsement of the “climate conspiracy” has paved the way for a state-sponsored environmental recession by Shell, BP, Exxon, etc. We see this with the recent announcement of PM Rishi Sunak’s plan to “max out UK fossil fuel reserves.” Nevertheless a 2017 Carbon Majors Report found only 100 corporations, mainly those relating to fossil fuels, were responsible for 71% of global emissions. Facts are negotiable in this Tory government.

So now I can only ask, what is more harmful: the inconvenient truth,  or the convenient lies? 

Image Credit: Patrick Down via Flickr

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