When I was a student in the 1970s the term acid rain cropped up and made its way into our rebellious conscience where we stored it together with all the other stuff which was proof to us that our parent's generation was the root of all evil. Nadanadanada.
I still have a cutting, an old cartoon from the taz, wrinkled recycled paper, speckled with holes from the various thumbtacks used to pin it on noticeboards above my changing variety of desks throughout the years. It depicts a dreary landscape, barren fields with broken tree stumps, cars and fumes, heavy skies. In the center, a grandfatherly man bends down to a crying child who looks at him with trust and sadness and he says: Believe me, if we had known that driving cars kills trees, we would have stopped immediately!
My father would let out one of his furious snorts whenever he noticed it. In his opinion, this was too emphatic and obviously over simplifying complex issues that will be solved in due course by this advanced society - in which I was for reasons beyond his comprehension and patience unable to participate and pull my proper weight.
But that was then and look, acid rain treaties have been signed and well, yawn.
Last night I was listening to Bruce Springsteen, the double album we bought in 1980. At a time when we were always broke but so full of ourselves, the communes, the organic gardens, food co-ops, alternative education for our home born kids. Life was one long line of exciting rallies, fundraising concerts, peace camps, pickets all the way to utopia and oh, the fun we had.
And somewhere into the second verse, all R could say was, quite the carbon footprint, driving all night to buy some shoes. And then he said as a by the way remark, life has caught up with us.
And so it has. We have failed. In our arrogance as a species. Today we have been told. But again we fail because seriously, do we actually read that stuff? Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind. The what? Humankind. That's us, remember?
Today I am scared. And furious. But mainly scared. I would dearly love to share in the enthusiasm of Rob Hopkins et al. but right now I agree with Paul Kingsnorth:
I don’t have any answers, if by answers we mean political systems, better machines, means of engineering some grand shift in consciousness. All I have is a personal conviction built on those feelings, those responses, that goes back to the moors of northern England and the rivers of southern Borneo—that something big is being missed. That we are both hollow men and stuffed men, and that we will keep stuffing ourselves until the food runs out, and if outside the dining room door we have made a wasteland and called it necessity, then at least we will know we were not to blame, because we are never to blame, because we are the humans.