If I believed mankind had all of four years left to save the world (which I don't, not for a moment), I wouldn't be writing the article Andrew Simms has just given us. In essence, what he says is that the UK must take drastic and painful measures, and then the Chinese, Indians, Saudis, Brazilians and everyone else will be shamed into following, or inspired into following, or something. A more arrogant and simultaneously naive thought is hardly conceivable.
So how will the UK achieve this act? By emulating the sacrifices of WW2.
The challenge is rapid transition of the economy in order to live within our environmental means, while preserving and enhancing our general wellbeing. In some important ways, we've been here before, and can learn lessons from history. Under different circumstances, Britain achieved astonishing things while preparing for, fighting and recovering from the second world war. In the six years between 1938 and 1944, the economy was re-engineered and there were dramatic cuts in resource use and household consumption. These coincided with rising life expectancy and falling infant mortality. We consumed less of almost everything, but ate more healthily and used our disposable income on what, today, we might call "low-carbon good times".
A National Savings Movement held marches, processions and displays in every city, town and village in the country. There were campaigns to Holiday at Home and endless festivities such as dances, concerts, boxing displays, swimming galas, and open-air theatre - all organised by local authorities with the express purpose of saving fuel by discouraging unnecessary travel. To lead by example, very public energy restrictions were introduced in government and local authority buildings, shops and railway stations. This was so successful that the results beat cuts previously planned in an over-complex rationing scheme. The public largely assented to measures to curb consumption because they understood that they were to ensure "the fairest possible distribution of the necessities and comforts of daily life".
Well, no. There were bombs falling on London, and though Simms doesn't mention them, I'll bet they were more effective at causing change than all those marches. And it's a wee stretch of the imagination to call those years "low carbon good times". How obtuse can a person be?
Anyway, it's telling that throughout the article, chock-filled with alarmist gobbledygook, there is no suggestion of pouring the zillions of $ (or Sterling) all this will cost, into finding the technologies that will enable us to get on with our good lives while freeing ourselves from the yoke of Chaves and the Saudis. That would be the wrong agenda, you understand.Sheesh.