Sometime in the 1980s there was a flurry of concern regarding the ozone layer. I’m sure most of my readers will recall… it became the central environmental issue for a time, and the acronym ‘CFC’ entered the common vocabulary almost overnight. I remember hearing the (in all possibility, apocryphal) tale of a crazy religious woman in America who was spending a fortune on hairspray and standing on her lawn all day emptying can after can of the stuff into the air. She sought to hasten armageddon and, one supposes, her ascension into heaven. And she decided the best way to do this was to destroy the ozone layer.
It’s an image that stuck with me. A few years later I worked it into a short story (unpublished) about the public reaction to news of a genuine and demonstrable impending apocalypse. The story drew from a whole bunch of sources (most prominently, the Ziggy Stardust album) and opened with a newsreader weeping as he informed his viewers that the levels of CFCs in the atmosphere had reached a tipping point, and the outer atmosphere had begun to irreversibly burn away. That within five years, solar radiation will have rendered the entire surface of the planet uninhabitable.
The crazy religious woman, surrounded by a small mountain of empty aerosols, and generating her own toxic micro-climate, is one of the people we meet as the vengeance-fixated hero guides us through a world that is dealing with the fact of its own impending demise. One of his encounters is with a lynch-mob. A group of about five hundred people on their way to the local university. Their mission is to string up, or burn at the stake, any environmentalists they can lay their hands on. The hero watches from a distance as the college burns. And as he does so, I seem to recall he quotes Camus and pontificates on the subject of human absurdity. Poor guy had the misfortune of being written by a philosophy undergraduate.
I was reminded of that old short story by a couple of pieces in the news recently. No, the crazy lady with the aerosols hasn’t returned (though I wonder what she’s up to these days? assuming she ever existed). But it looks like the lynch-mobs might be on their way. “Blame the greens when the lights go off“, says Nick Cohen in The Guardian. And David King, the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser for the past seven years, insists that “Greens are hurting the Climate Change fight“.
Quoting Orwell would be just too damn obvious at this point, so I’ll forego it and get straight to the name-calling.
Both Cohen and King claim that the only way to successfully combat Climate Change is to actively encourage economic growth.
Apparently we need to consume our way out of this problem. Fucking. Idiots.