Mammoth in the Living Room

In reply to:
Jemima, Deer, ‘Inconvenient truths: the psychology of coronavirus and the climate crisis’, The Canary (16/04/20). <>

Dear Jemima, I enjoyed your excellent psychological parallel between C-19 and climate crisis. Very neat. As apes our scope for alertness to danger is indeed immediate, small scale. So we cannot grasp on an everyday basis that our small acts of meeting a friend (C-19) going on holiday (flights) build the disaster we cannot see coming.

But when you conclude that the only intervention that can succeed with climate crisis, as with C19, is governmental, you are again right, but you don’t go far enough. For the governments are not going to.

If we are apes, they are gigantic mammoths, and the mammoth in the living room is their lack of will to act against their own immediate, familiar comfort just like the apes. Your Govt and mine (UK) is comfortable when feeding greed, and a cruel pleasure in inequality, enabled by skilled spin. None of that will impel action unless, like C-19 they come up against the prospect of obvious massive damage to what they want. Here I have a govt that is doing as little as they can get away with on both issues, and frequently doing/ not doing things that make it worse. Our C-19 death rate is going to be the highest in Europe. Yours is no better, perhaps worse.

They have also tied up the law, and executive so there is limited capacity to halt them. The media is owned by a few interconnected families, part of the elite. There are campaigns, grass roots stuff. But only look at how our Corbyn initiative was broken and it is clear the mammoth is too big, too clever.

The C-19 might have a similar effect to WWII in dislodging our accustomed systems. Perhaps there will be a reforming post-virus government like the post-war one. I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath. The elite are so well dug in and so unscrupulous.

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