As we entered 2020, we industrious humans of the Anthropocene had successfully completed a run of the five hottest years on record. And nothing was going to stop us making that ten out of ten. Despite knowing full well that our actions were responsible for increasing temperatures, we simply couldn’t change our ways. As former British Prime Minister Tony Blair put it, “The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy.”
As COVID-19 rolled over the top of the world’s best-laid plans for the new decade, and country after country sacrificed its economy, it became clear that the couldn’t was really more like a wouldn’t. Yes we can; but no we won’t, thank you very much. It seems that immediate personal fear is far more persuasive than future collective fear.
But the climate crisis isn’t something that will happen in the future. It is happening now, and was happening long before COVID-19 materialised. My only hope is that rather than falling back into our old ways we can transfer our freshly-acquired will to fight and willingness to sacrifice from one crisis to the other.