Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Why aren’t we celebrating last week’s Paris climate deal? Where’s the joy and the gratitude – the dancing in the streets and the fireworks?
Satirist Rex Murphy has a column in the weekend edition of Canada’s National Post newspaper. Its headline asks the most important climate question of 2015:
So why aren’t we celebrating saving the planet?
A week ago, global leaders and UN officials triumphantly announced that climate catastrophe had been averted. According to Al Gore, December 12, 2015 will be revered by our grandchildren as a turning point in history.
So why aren’t we dancing in the streets from New Delhi to New York, from Auckland to Berlin? Why aren’t we scattering rose petals beneath the feet of our saviours – the ones boasting about their own wisdom?As Murphy says:
It’s a wonderful thing to save the world. Literally, to save all the world. It surely doesn’t happen every day. Considering we have just had that rare, even singular, event transpire in Paris…it is passing strange how little jubilation the rescue of the planet has stirred. The billions who have seen Doom forestalled seem eerily disinterested.
It’s unfortunate Murphy makes disparaging remarks about the latest Star Wars film. It’s the holidays, after all, a time for all of us to lighten up. But his larger point is bang on. The release of a science fiction movie this week sparked considerably more spontaneous and enthusiastic public celebration than has the Paris climate deal.
On Wednesday, thousands congregated outdoors in London to witness the red-carpet spectacle associated with the European premier of The Force Awakens. Enthusiasm was similarly high in Sydney. On Friday, costumed fans attended the first screenings in Tokyo, while thousands more costumed fans gathered in L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle to participate in a mock lightsaber battle.
Here’s Murphy again:
But after the news that our dear green planet has been hauled back from the crevice of total catastrophe, that the world’s great cities will be spared from inundation and destruction, the absence of celebration, the dull, flat, routine response of the world’s population, poses a mystery. I’ve seen people exhibiting more joy over a bacon sandwich. Strange, isn’t it?
He suggests that either ordinary people didn’t believe a genuine climate peril existed, or that we’re doubtful the Paris agreement has solved the problem. Alternatively, and more likely, he says, most of us are preoccupied with the problems in front of our nose. Here in Canada, an oil industry that feeds families, pays mortgages, and funds nation-wide social programs is collapsing due to plunging international prices and government hostility. People worried sick about the next six months find it difficult to muster excitement about a speculative crisis 100 years from now.
Self-aggrandizing politicians imagine that the Paris agreement matters. So where are the officially-organized celebrations, the fireworks displays to mark last week’s momentous achievement? Deep down, even they seem to know it’s all fatuous blather.
Green lobbyists, government bureaucrats whose jobs depend on the climate scare, academics who research climate, and environmental activists pretending to be journalists all think what happened in Paris last weekend is awfully important. Those are the constituencies that now keep the climate ball rolling. Those are the vested interests that will make it difficult for the rest of us, long term, to free ourselves from the climate obsession. Pay cheques and self-regard.
But the available evidence indicates that the public has overwhelmingly tuned-out. Climate change isn’t a vote winner. It’s an expensive distraction from real world concerns.
read Rex Murphy’s entire column here