This relates to my last post. Perhaps there is one thing I can suggest that all artists might do to become more useful. It’s to read the new Global Commission on Adaptation Report: Adapt Now: A Global Call For Leadership on Climate Resilience. OK, so it should have been a report that called for deep adaptation and spelled out why Trump, Johnson et. alia. are pursuing pathological and suicidal political policies , but that was never going to happen. I’m actually surprised they’ve said anything along these lines at all.
To write: “Government officials and business leaders need to radically rethink how they make decisions. We need a revolution in understanding, planning, and finance that makes climate risks visible, incorporates these risks into all decisions, and releases public and private financial flows” may be true; but it is also, of course, a massive fudge. It’s another way to avoid acknowledging the underlying problem of power. One that can be paraphrased as “we had the power to get you into this mess, and only we have the power to get you out of it”. This is, of course, nonsense.
If “they” really had that ability, surely they would have acted on it by now? The truth, I suspect, is that as people they are more than most psychosocially incapable of breaking with their having internalised the values of possessive individualism. To make that break would, I think, require them to reinvent themselves in ways they simply cannot begin to imagine. And maybe, just maybe, that’s where artists can do something useful. But only, of course, if we can make the break with those cultural values first.
In addition to drawing attention to what those among the status quo who are publicly prepared to say about the deepening climate crisis, the report helps explain the extraordinary energy the current British (or should that read English?) Government are putting into taking the UK out of Europe.
The last thing that cabal of autocrats and their billionaire backers want is to find themselves in a situation where this kind of thinking is taken seriously, as the EU has already shown signs of doing. That would potentially restrict their capacity to pursue their own personal fantasies of more wealth and power regardless of the socio-environmental cost. Hence the whole “sovereignty” nonsense. (As if Britain has any kind of real sovereignty as a nation in the age of global corporate capitalism). Whatever its failings, and they are many, at least the EU offers some basis on which to lobby for, coordinate, and share good practice around the deep adaptation we now urgently need.
But from a UK Government point of view, all this talk about an environmental crisis just an extension of “Project Fear”. Heaven forbid, for example, that London might be required by EU legislation, not just to actually lower its deadly traffic pollution rates, but to follow the example of Rotterdam. That is, to develop and help fund a serious, long-term flood plan. Instead we are sold a bogus vision of sovereignty that is a smoke-screen for allowing, say, property speculators to build the new Boris Johnson third London airport, and financial speculators to bet both ways on the UK’s economic collapse from the (relative and short-term) safety of their off-shore business hubs in Ireland or wherever.
So, please read the report and think about how, as people used to working imaginatively, we might best respond to it.
I’m not, of course, suggesting we need art made in response to the report – although I can think of worse things to do – but simply that we need to start cultivating imaginative responses to such understanding as it shows.