No, I am not setting up as a local weather forecaster or as a sort of prophet of doom either. I am wondering, however, how we here in Gloucester feel about the news from other parts of the world where they are enduring such terrible disasters.
There seems a fairly straightforward connection between the current crop of troubles, hurricanes Harvey and Irma in particular, and climate breakdown. There have always been Atlantic storms at this time of year, but the additional warmth of the atmosphere and especially of the oceans caused by global warming has meant that the storms are more frequent and more intense.
I don’t want to be too hard on us here in Gloucester but I suspect that we feel that global warming, and therefore stormy weather in the Caribbean, is not really much to do with us. I stood as a parliamentary candidate in the 2015 General Election. I was asked about all the usual things – schools, the NHS, austerity, transport, taxes and so on – but never once, in all the seventeen times I spoke at public events, was there a question about the environment. This was despite the fact that I was the Green Party candidate and might have been expected to know something about it. I was much less involved in the 2016 election but, as far as I could make out, the pattern was the same – very little interest.
Recently, Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Sequel: speaking truth to power (four stars in the Guardian) was showing for a week here in Gloucester at the Sherborne Cinema. The evening I saw the film there were seven of us. After the week was over I asked the management what the overall attendance was like. They agreed that it was small. I think this is a pity, not so much for the sake of the cinema – they were quite relaxed about it – but because it was an important film, well worth seeing, about a subject which concerns us all.
Going back to the bad news, perhaps we feel that though we are sorry for the victims in faraway places, there is not much we can actually do about their troubles. But there is. There is a sequence. Climate breakdown comes from global warming and global warming is by definition something that has to do with everyone, whether they live in the Caribbean or Gloucester. We, and they, cause it and suffer it. Solutions will have to be local if they are going to be global. This is something we cannot hide from. Come on Gloucester!
Photo (c) AFP/Getty, sourced from bbc.co.uk/news