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One day you’re kicking against the pricks, and the next day you are the prick. I hate to break this to all you young, taut-skinned shaggers with very earnest, watertight opinions, but there is a best-before date on thinking the right things. Or simply understanding what the hell is going on. The first time I realised that generation X, my crowd, had fully became Uncle or Auntie Disgusting at family gatherings came as I was airing my very old-fashioned attitude to allergies. I believe allergies exist, yes. But, like many people in their mid-40s, I just don’t believe that quite so many people truly have them. Here we have the generation gap writ large in one EpiPen-wielding sentence. “Oh, everyone ate nuts everywhere in the 70s,” I’ve heard myself say. “Did we die? No, we didn’t. And if you’re that allergic to nuts, would you not just stay at home?” Clearly, I accept now, after much gasping and weeping from generation Y relatives, … [Read more...] about Once I was a young radical, with all the right opinions. Now I am Auntie Disgusting
As Extinction Rebellion flooded Whitehall with rivers of fake blood this month, and its youthful members conspired to gridlock nationwide traffic, I was reminded again of a half-term holiday in Cumbria in 1984 when I made and consumed a lot of packet soup. It was the powdered variety of Knorr’s Farmhouse Vegetable, which looked like wallpaper paste with carrot flecks and bullets of salty starch laughably called “croutons”. Yet the preparing of this soup, the stirring, the simmering and the drinking, gave me a small, temporary sense of comfort because, aged 11, all day and all night, I worried about nuclear bombs. Or not so much the bombs themselves, but the terrifying end-of-days carnage that would follow, that I’d heard talk of on Panorama or via CND leaflets. I fixated on the matter of saving my cats, Soot and Fred, while the Dents crouched under the kitchen table. Should I put the cats in a cardboard box? What if the bomb scared them away? Would it be safe to … [Read more...] about I used to stockpile for the nuclear apocalypse. Where did my youthful terror go?
A well-circulated statistic this week, from a new book by the University of California, Berkeley, economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, shows that the richest 400 families in the United States now pay a lower tax rate than the bottom 50% of families. Those 400 families – the 0.01% – own more wealth than 60% of households in the US. The top 0.1% own more than 80%. Rates for the top 0.01% and the bottom 50% have been creeping closer since 1960. Also this week, the Guardian’s polluters series found that just 20 private and state-owned fossil fuel producers are responsible for 35% of manmade carbon dioxide and methane emissions over a similar period. On Thursday, the IMF suggested a $75-per-ton global carbon tax is the most efficient way to fight greenhouse gas emissions and keep warming below 2C. The tax is, if anything, far too low. Mind, actual carbon prices worldwide average about $8 per ton, according to the OECD. And proposals for far lower carbon taxes in … [Read more...] about The IMF thinks carbon taxes will stop the climate crisis. That’s a terrible idea
The criticisms of Extinction Rebellion fit a well established pattern: indulgent, middle-class crusties slumming it; naughty children revolting for their own entertainment. Then there are the takes on its tactics – too disruptive, too naive or too disrespectful and miles away from the actual concerns of “real people”. Extinction Rebellion will be assessed and evaluated against criteria its activists did not ask for. Its tactics will be compared and contrasted one against the other, with different strands of the movement categorised accordingly. Good tactics will be those that are lawful, unobtrusive and polite and don’t really get in the way of other people’s daily lives. Whereas lobbying for reform, politely asking politicians to change their priorities, will be judged respectable, but pointless. In a hierarchy of need, worrying about the environment is framed by some as a luxury compared with poverty, homelessness and the cuts that austerity has brought … [Read more...] about Climate protests have roots that go deep into the rich history of British social change