We all know the plot—it has been around since H. G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds, and has been re-imagined many times since then.
The intentions of the aliens vary, from exploratory to utopian to malign, but Earth’s response is formulaic:
- Frantic international discussions
- National differences put aside as humans unite as one behind some fearless leader to greet/defeat the existential threat
If Hollywood makes the movie the fearless leader is a steely-eyed hero supported by the entire U.S. military. If it’s a Dr. Who episode it’s four privates in baggy serge led by Brigadier Upper-Class-Lethbridge-Stewart, but the intention is the same, we all band together to meet the common arrival/invader/enemy, because that’s the only rational response—or even instinctive tribal response—we can make as a species to an existential threat.
Contrast this with the Climate Emergency. There are a few obvious differences:
- “There is no enemy”
- “We have met the enemy and he is us”
- Frantic international finger-pointing
- Tribal differences exacerbated, because most tribal leaders are psychopaths supported by billionaires whose further, future billions are threatened by a rational response
- Public unite in a groundswell international movement, persistently dismissed and suppressed by tribal leaders
What went wrong?
There’s little doubt that the Climate Emergency is, literally, an existential threat to humankind. Why, then, are we having so much trouble responding?
Let me, selfishly, narrow the focus to Australia.
Our population is around twenty-five million; world population is around seven and half billion, so we are roughly 0.3% of the world’s population.
We export around 38% of the world’s coal by dollar value. That means, per capita, we export more than one hundred times our share of coal. Even in total figures we export more coal than any other country.
By any measure that’s a position of world leadership.
Leaving aside for a moment the world’s apparent inability to come to a consensus response to the climate emergency, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for each nation/tribe to decide for itself that the threat is so great, so existential, that lacking international agreement it should nevertheless independently do all that it could to meet the threat.
Contrast, now, the response from our government to two different threats: one, the tension in the Persian Gulf; two, human extinction from anthropogenic climate change.
Our response to the first: “We’re only a small country, but we will do everything we can to assist in an international* effort to meet this threat”. This includes deploying troops and materiel from our very modest armed forces; so many in fact that there is criticism that this leaves us unprepared and unable to meet any local threats, threats for which these forces actually exist.
Our response to the second: “We’re only a small country, so we won’t make much difference.”
Consider the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of this.
Our armed forces, in absolute terms, rank 76th in the world. Per capita we rank 104th. It’s absolutely clear that, militarily, we really are a small country and can contribute very little.
Contrast this with our contribution to global warming: largest coal exporter in the world, and ranked number one exporter per capita.
Yet the government responses are the exact polar opposites to the reality.
How is such stunning stupidity possible? Even though we can’t join effectively with other countries to form a global response to the alien invasion/threat of extinction, faced with coming up with at least a national response, one over which we have control, our answer is totally illogical.
Using the alien invasion scenario, it’s as though the country with the world’s largest military, when faced with the invasion, said “Look, you know what, we don’t think we can contribute much. We’ll just sit this one out. Some of you have increased your militaries recently, you deal with it. Not our responsibility.”
As I suggested earlier it’s pretty obvious that our government’s response is neither rational nor reflective of general public opinion. Rather it is very clearly being driven by vested interests who have the ear of politicians and control most of the media.
If the aliens ever do invade we can predict the result. The world’s billionaires will still be rich and growing richer right up to the moment when the aliens, deservedly, wipe all of us off the face of the planet, billionaires included.
Our only hope (apart, possibly, from Obi-Wan Kenobi) is for us, the people, to throw off the billionaires’ stranglehold on our politicians and our government. There’s very little time left before the “aliens” arrive and lay waste to our planet.