Climate Opportunity

Next week, the G7 summit in quaint Schloss Elmau, Germany, will tackle the climate crisis, among many other looming disasters. Tom Kenis looks ahead at this ‘climate opportunity’. ‘For the eternal optimist, the glass is always half full. Especially when one is, as the saying goes, in it up to the neck.’

  • Paul Stevenson (CC BY 2.0) Part of the Another Place exhibition by Antony Gormley in Mersyside, England. Paul Stevenson (CC BY 2.0)

Every now and then I catch myself checking the day’s, jacket-or-no-jacket, temperature from my balcony, struck with fear.

Or rather, ‘angst’: that youthful, existential cousin of fear, fretting for the morrow and one’s own role in its doubtful arising. Too warm for the time of year, what say you?

But then I look at my bowl of ‘urban’ radishes and the herbs, ahem, weeds proliferating around them. Things will work out just fine.

‘We’re doomed. No G7 or 8 or 9 will change that.’

An uneasy feeling remains. Twenty-five centigrade in April? We’re done for, and the media are covering it up. Lovely beach weather! Meanwhile, the world’s governments continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry. To the tune of trillions (that’s billions times one thousand).

We’re doomed. No G7 or 8 or 9 will change that. Ditto the upcoming UN climate parlay in Paris. What we need is a revolution, which isn’t forthcoming. Hence, it’s curtains for us. (“One day, son, all of this will be yours.”).

But then again I think of the weeds on my balcony, and the green that’s thicker than water. More than an optimist, I consider myself a futurist. As a fledgling teenager, I figured the UN had better turn into a veritable world government. Post haste! I wasn’t sure why, but I watched Star Trek. In space there is no air. Flags do not flutter. In that same period, alarmed by the coming water wars, I buried Coke bottles filled with precious H20 in the sandbox I had scarcely outgrown. To this day I skipper between anxiety and future. Climate and opportunity. Every cloud has a silver lining. And behind it, the scorching sun.

‘Man is what happens to him, or what he does to himself.’

My optimism is conditional. But optimism it is. Or rather, humanistic opportunism. Man is what happens to him, or what he does to himself. (a better writer than myself will de-genderise that without blowing up the syntax.) From the beginning we have been defined by every obstacle, every setback. Every crisis is a potential leap forward.

The climate crisis is the crucible of a world civilization. No less. Linked to the G7 summit: surviving is something we can all agree on. Even the good folks at IS. Even Tony Blair, for crying out loud.

The learning process is not going fast enough. But zoom out (I recommend a couple of seasons of Star Trek) and a different picture emerges. Humanity is undergoing rapid revolution. Not only are we having to learn how to deal with a warming world through global agreements – who touched the thermostat?

We are quickly learning crucial things about how the planet works. How planets work, plural. With this knowledge, we will be able to make that reddish neighbour of ours a more enjoyable, greener place to hang out before we trundle on over and plant the one remaining flag that matters. Together with our hydroponic radishes and weeds that, like humans, thrive.

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Over de auteur

  • Schrijver, publicist & vertaler

    Tom Kenis heeft een achtergrond in Islamstudies en Internationale Betrekkingen. Hij woonde en werkte vier jaar in het Midden-Oosten en in Berlijn.