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Looking on the positive side …

Having deliberately refrained from addressing my favourite subject (you can file it under the general heading Cynicism Towards Everyone Who Has Ever Been Involved in Politics) in recent months, I return to it today following a dinner party I attended recently at which the future of the globe became a talking point – and here I’d add that this was before this week’s ‘topic de jour’ – the launch on Monday of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, apparently warning that the point of no return for the human race and indeed all living things may have already been reached, hit the proverbial fan.

Such concerns about the way things were travelling due to our species’ activity have been expressed throughout the course of self-aware philosophising ever since civilisation can be deemed to have first originated but, for present purposes, let us pretend that Thomas Malthus’s 1798 seminal and influential book An Essay On The Principle Of Population stands as a key watershed.

Firstly, because his theme – that one day Man’s capacity to reproduce would exceed his ability to feed himself – was at the time theoretically logical and probably unanswerable.

And secondly, because ultimately Malthus was first ignored and later (on the face of it) proved wrong due to Man’s subsequent and possibly unexpected infinite ingenuity to develop many more different and indeed progressively efficient ways of feeding and watering his descendants.

Our collective luck – if you can call it that – was that Man’s unique ability to improvise, adapt, improve and harness his surroundings has always been impressively ingenious and manifold.

However, the unwelcome accompanying downside ‘elephant in the room’ has always been Man’s instinctive, complacent and selfish assumption that the resources of Planet Earth are infinite.

Which they aren’t – and perhaps that brings us back to Malthus.

My dinner party Brains Trust mentioned above duly got stuck into the options for what happens from here.

One of the issues that the assembled touched upon was [yes, and I apologise for raising it] Brexit. Two others were the Russia of Mr Putin and the USA of Mr Trump.

I wasn’t surprised – because for a while now it’s been my hobby-horse – that one of the themes of our discussion was the essential nature of human beings and the various directions it has caused out lords and masters to take in ordering the affairs of their different societies.

The slightly shocking but arguably rational and logical conclusion was soon reached is that Western-style ‘one man, one vote’ democracy [I’m using the term ‘man’ here to also include women, and transgender friends going either way for the sake of brevity], whilst theoretically laudable, is practically the worst – in the context of achievement and taking actions for the collective good – assuming, of course, anyone has the copyright on what the definition of that actually is – that could have been espoused and enacted.

Here I’m not sure whether the following view is fascist or communist in theory, but – when dynamic action is required or perceived to be necessary – allowing everybody over the age of 18 a similar ‘one person’ vote is a cack-handed way to proceed.

Should the UK have an extra Bank holiday in June? Bingo – let’s have a referendum and decide.

Should we go to war with Mr Putin because 250,000 Russian troops, supported by the Russian air force and seventy Russian navy vessels, have landed at Hove?

Obvious: let’s have a referendum and make the decision.

And so on …

Meanwhile Mr Putin won’t have had any of those problems.

He’ll have just picked up a phone – or pressed a button – and within about four days he’ll be using Buckingham Palace as his thirteen or fourteenth weekend get-away cottage.

But let me return to climate change.

It’s as plain as a pikestaff that the only way to ‘save the planet’ – and it was illustrative of something at my dinner party that when somebody airily wondered aloud what human life would be like in the year 2250, a fellow guest with three kids responded “Well all I can say is that, whatever it is, I’m glad I’m not going to be around!” – is for the human race collectively to take the decisive and dynamic action that is now apparently scientifically proven will be necessary to avoid Armageddon.

Which, to be blunt, let’s face it – as the human race currently organises itself – is never going to happen, is it?

When the media tells us, as it has recently – when we in the UK are being warned to get out of fossil fuels and being told that the cost of ‘renewable energy’ is now thankfully coming down – whilst elsewhere every year China is building 50 new coal-fired power stations …

Or that (did you know, and I certainly didn’t) the current phenomenon of women’s ‘fast fashion – that is, buying tons of excessively cheap clothing every week produced by slavery-style sweat shops in Third World countries and then just throwing said items away after wearing them less than three times – is causing more damage to the Earth’s ecosystem every year than the entire ‘bad stuff’ global output of aviation and motorised transport combined …

One theme being heavily put about on UK TV and radio this week has been “What can we, as responsible human beings, now begin doing in practice as our contribution to saving the planet?”

I’m sorry, but this is a classic and Giza Pyramid-sized case of “fiddling whilst Rome burns”.

I’ve been a total cynic from Day One about campaigns encouraging me to separate out my rubbish into ‘cans & tins’, ‘glass’, ‘plastics’ and whatever-else-may-have-you.


Because I’ve both heard of and witnessed my own local council refuse collecting lorries polluting the roads with their diesel emissions like there’s no tomorrow on their way to the local rubbish dump … and then simply hurling every one of those ‘supposedly separated out’ black sacks straight into the same pile when they arrive.

The fact may well be that the world is going to hell in a hand-cart. I’m fully prepared to admit it.

But why should I as an individual take any action at all to restrict my ‘emissions’ when the human race’s collective problem is a trillion times worse than that … and whilst the bulk of those who might or do have the wherewithal to do something about it are bound by restraining notions (whether self-imposed or not) of democracy, political correctness, diversity and ‘not wishing to offend anyone’.

Goodbye, Cruel World …

(And will the last to depart please switch the lights out) …


About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts