Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Guardian author Jeff Sparrow thinks we need a modern equivalent to the violent Communist uprisings which rocked France, Germany and Russia towards the end of WW1 to solve the climate crisis.
Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war
The warnings about an unfolding climate catastrophe are getting more desperate, yet the march to destruction continues
“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
The mournful remark supposedly made by foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey at dusk on 3 August 1914 referred to Britain’s imminent entry into the first world war. But the sentiment captures something of our own moment, in the midst of an intensifying campaign against nature.
According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, over the last four decades the international animal population was reduced by nearly 60%.More than a billion fewer birds inhabit North America today compared to 40 years ago. In Britain, certain iconic species (grey partridges, tree sparrows, etc) have fallen by 90%. In Germany, flying insects have declined by 76% over the past 27 years. Almost half of Borneo’s orangutans died or were removed between 1999 and 2015. Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% in a decade, with on average one adult killed by poachers every 15 minutes.
The devastation of the first world war eventually engendered a wave of revolt from a populace appalled at the carnage their politicians had wrought.
Climate change has not yet spurred an equivalent of the mutinies in France or the revolution in Petrograd or the uprising in Berlin.
Yet Labor’s appalling equivocation over the Adani mine – a piece of environmental vandalism for which there can be no justification – illustrates the urgency with which we need a new and different type of politics.
The stakes could not be higher. Lamps are going out all over the natural world … and no one will ever see them lit again.
Perhaps pseudocryptic demands for a “new and different type of politics” is what fanatics do when they realise ordinary people have stopped listening to their ranting.