The floods may have finally shocked rightwingers into taking climate change seriously

Surely refuseniks feel duty-bound to rethink beliefs. Some clearly can’t or won’t

Share

Biblical floods, submerged habitations, devastated, distraught people who have lost everything.

This is a turning point for me and, I assume, millions of others. I wasn’t daft enough to be a climate change denier, but was just not that much into green politics and environmental science. This is, I think, the first column I have ever penned on the subjects.

My spouse, in contrast, is eco-aware and one of nature’s dedicated proselytisers. In the past when he started up about recycling, fossil fuels, deforestation or agricultural vandalism, I would sing Boney M songs loudly to cut out his words. (He can’t bear Boney M.) Yes, frivolous and immature. After reading Germaine Greer’s latest book on the piece of Australian forest she bought and returned to the wild, I had started thinking more deeply about the planet and human recklessness. Then came this washed-out winter. Shock and awe have been followed by buckets of guilt. Guilt is good if it leads to personal and political reappraisals and candour.

Something seriously bad is happening to climate patterns all around the world. Typhoons, droughts, flood and famines have destroyed parts of our beautiful planet. But all that was happening out there, to other folk, often dusky and wretched, those who have been thought of as the flotsam and jetsam of humanity, perpetually needy. Though millions of pounds were raised by charities, concern was not sustained.

Just last November, Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines. I had forgotten all about the cataclysm until I saw Simon Roberts’ heartbreaking pictures of the makeshift shacks that survivors still live in (they are on the Oxfam website). The 2004 Tsunami was different because several Westerners were, tragically, swept away. Questions were asked if such catastrophes were getting more frequent, ferocious and were partly man-made?

Those have become urgent as our isles deal with fierce weather onslaughts on people and places.

Surely most obstreperous refuseniks feel duty-bound to rethink orthodoxies, beliefs, behaviours, policies and biases? Some clearly can’t or won’t. Though most sceptics have been spookily silent recently, an agitated Nigel Lawson has been coming out with bizarre explanations, blaming, among other “evils”, wind turbines – tilting, like pathetic old Don Quixote, at windmills.

His son, Dominic, is also a fundamentalist denier. These two and others within the (hopefully ever smaller) band of doubters want total proof and unconditional causality – knowing such absolutes are impossible at this point. They have yet to produce substantial, uncompromised, peer-reviewed research to prove there is no climate change. Or to reveal any links they may have to businesses which may or may not affect the views they hold and disseminate.

Their contemptuous disregard for facts and evidence-based theories should make them irrelevant. But the media just loves some mavericks and so they get to sound off and confuse the people, especially the undecided. After these storms, one hopes, Britons will listen less to these ideologically driven, right-wing refuters.

On to another fave right-wing bogey – the big, bossy state, which steals all our money and spends it on pen pushers, lesbian fests and cruises for prisoners. Many of those same moaners, I reckon, have this week been blaming the Environment Agency and DEMANDING to know what the Government has been doing/will do to stop rain from falling on British soil and swamping their good lives. They now want big government, a sturdy nanny to take care of them and wipe their tears. Their anger and pain is evident and understandable, their demands right and just. Perhaps now they will stop their silly moans and pay taxes nicely. Only governments – local and national – and international bodies can plan for future climatic disasters and respond when crises arise.

Human relations too have been profoundly altered by the deluge. Rushing and rising water recognises no class, race or wealth differences. Nor do humans when they are caught up in calamities. Preconceptions about groups wash away. Victims and those who go out to rescue them have to cooperate or sink.

I have been struck by the camaraderie in the worst-hit areas, the willingness to help, to share pain, treat each other with respect. Sure the farmers are angry with townies and vice versa, and there have been some disgraceful mutterings from Ukip types about how we should cut overseas aid, but that is all talk. When they have to, British men and women seem able to muster empathy and generosity towards strangers in distress. As they have this fortnight.

In the volatile times to come, we have to do our little bit for the environment. I promise to try harder. Anti-social right-wingers calling for the state to back off need to wake up and grow up. The wrathful rains have kindled kindness and resilience.

The selfish among us must now know that without cooperation and mutuality, our citizens are vulnerable and perilously weak. After this transformative winter, nothing can be as it was.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital