Phew What a Scorcher!
Michael McCarthy nearly choked on his Kit Kat realising that The Sun had woken up: “It’s not always easy to recognise a historical tipping point when you see one, but I believe I spotted one when I walked into my local newsagent last Wednesday and saw the front page of the Sun. Over a map of the world which was coloured bright scarlet, the splash headline screamed: “THE WORLD’S ON FIRE”.
Britain’s biggest-selling daily newspaper was not mincing its words. The subheading on the left-hand side proclaimed “PLANET GRIPPED BY KILLER HEATWAVE”, while the right-hand one announced: “HUNDREDS DIE IN EUROPE AND JAPAN”. And if you were wondering what the cause of all this might be, the accompanying news report carried a quote – just the one – from Len Shaffrey, professor of climate science at Reading University, who said: “Global temperatures are increasing due to climate change. The global rise in temperatures means the probability that an extreme heatwave will occur is also increasing.”
He concludes that the front page in a rightwing tabloid signals that “the summer of 2018, which is throwing up extraordinary climactic extremes all over the northern hemisphere, from north Africa to the Arctic, is finally puncturing the bubble of so-called climate scepticism, at least in Britain.”
Over at Vice Ellie Mae O’Hagan seems to have got the memo: “Last week, Professor Michael Mann at Penn State University, one the world’s most eminent climate scientists, told the Guardian that the heatwave we’ve been experiencing in the UK and throughout Europe is “the face of climate change”. He added: “We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change… The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle, we are seeing them play out in real time and what is happening this summer is a perfect example of that.”
Revelations that the IEA has been funded by BP for decades – and was at the heart of a convergence of climate change deniers, Brexiteers and the American de-regulation lobby – might have alerted smart producers that they were
The BBC yesterday seemed stuck in a time-warp as DeSmog UK reported and The Express is having a field day.
Whilst O’Hagan points to the impacts of the climate catastrophe on food, migration and biodiversity, the Express thinks its all great for business and part of a “glorious Brexit”.
Ignore that fact that the Sunny Uplands might be on fire, we are according to the Express: “facing a glorious future” and we will “soar ahead of other European economies” with a No Deal exit. But the giveaway line is that Britain will become a “European version of Singapore”.
This is why we see a convergence of climate denial and the neoliberal transatlantic agenda, an ideology wrap-up in populist jingoism and cheery bonhomie.
We have known for a long time that by the time people are actually facing the affects of climate change, there will already be wildly dangerous forces at play. We can’t blame people for not recognising an abstract until it is literally staring them in the face.
But this delay has been exacerbated by decades of disinformation and this continues with the swarm of think-tanks given credence and profile by the BBC even in the wake of extraordinary allegations about their malpractice.
It’s not new and has been a long-time developing.
Right-wing groups like the Legatum Institute, the IEA, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Henry Jackson Society, the Taxpayers Alliance, Guido Fawkes, the Adam Smith Institute and a swirl of individuals are seen here, way back in 2010 organising and collaborating. All are now normalised and mainstreamed and given platforms by an unthinking and duplicitous broadcast media.
We are led to believe that Brexit emerged as a spontaneous outburst of populist energy, rather than a political project years in the making.
It’s in this context that you see the wall-to-wall Tommy Robinson / Jordan Peterson coverage on loop, and if as seems clear, the climate crisis leads rapidly to severe infrastructure issues, this fostering of far-right voices and sensibility isn’t a concern for ‘liberals’ and ‘snowflakes’ but for us all.