The office of the government’s special advisory board on climate change, where the release of a long-awaited white paper on the troubles suffered by rich, first world consciences, regarding the potential effects of global warming, was today released to spasms of doom-mongery amongst the broadcast media and press. This diagnosis is the result of months spent researching exactly how the troubled inhabitants of our developed world collude in altering this planet for the worse, and it vividly illustrates how fears about humans meddling in the eco-system now outweigh worries of famine, war, poverty, HIV and endangered species put together. In fact, these subjects are now utterly dwarfed by the negative impact global warming has on the thought processes of the inhabitants of our wealthiest nations.
“The conclusion of this investigation could not be more explicit.” Confirmed the Mayor of London’s leading advisor on global warming, Studs Contrite, a man HDUK met for lunch on an exhaust-filled street outside a sweltering café. “Thanks to the efforts of people like myself, the populus is more worried about what it does to the planet than anything which might crop up in their boring, day to day lives. Those quotidian crises like granddad’s worsening sciatica, or why the kids are playing in the road. If we don’t act quickly to reverse climate change and alleviate these feelings of guilt, our children won’t be able to sleep at night, their heads filled with images of melting ice caps, flooded tropical basins, and commercial logging.”
Across the world scientists are currently speculating on the forthcoming effects of global warming, but they all know that, whatever actually happens, it is you who is personally responsible. Such consequences are thought to include the erosion of coastlines, sea levels rising between 15 and 95 centimetres by 2100, severe droughts, nasty floods, and a large number of upset polar bears. And most believe that this apocalyptic scenario is down to your ancestors pumping noxious gas into the earth’s atmosphere during those decades spent burning fossil fuels after the industrial revolution. As well as raising the temperature of the earth by more than a degree a century, you have created a situation where arctic ice melts by 9% a decade, and the planet’s atmosphere is now nothing more than one big swirl of methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs. This type of behaviour from you and your forefathers ensures that each generation now suffers an undercurrent of culpability and self-reproach throughout their daily lives, something that, despite our best efforts, we can do little about.
Or can we? Since this situation is essentially your fault, perhaps it’s also your responsibility to begin that all-important reversal of global warming? The details of today’s government report can act as a guide, advising first-world denizens how to nullify the emissions of worldwide big business and the like. Tips include; keeping one eye on your mobile while it’s charging so as to unplug the thing immediately when it’s powered up, never leaving the house, and using no electricity or water (except in emergencies). Although this final point may sound improbable, it really is possible to stay relatively clean on just one five-minute shower a week, while much of a human being’s essential nutrients can be found in salads, or a pot noodle topped up with small glasses of lukewarm tap water.
“Those who do not wish to take individual responsibility for the state of their environment tend to be those
same people who carelessly discard the wax paper off their hamburger, or give in when their youngest
daughter demands a new car.” Enthused Studs as he tucked into a dessert of organic spotted dick and
the conversation turned to blame once more. “As our studies have proved, a huge dent can be made in
the carbon emissions of the world’s superpowers if only a few more twenty-somethings in Stoke
Newington would recycle their Christmas cards, or half-fill the kettle when making a cup of tea. Although
the full damage of humanity’s conspicuous consumption may never be known, huge numbers of people
have already been exposed to so much climate negativity in the media, they feel irredeemably guilty.
Particularly when the weather’s a bit sunnier than usual.”
So what are the key changes we can make to our collective lifestyle in order to assuage consciences and encourage the earth to enter that all-important second ice age?
“If you have air conditioning, uninstall it.” Nods Contrite fervently. “Air conditioning is the enemy. Embrace sweatiness, or open the windows instead. The threat from burglars wielding lead piping is actually relatively small, particularly if you’re always indoors. It's also better to sit in the dark rather than turn a light on, particularly during the winter. Leave the heating off too. If you’re cold, simply put on another jumper, or tasteful body-warmer. If you must go outside this summer it’s better for the environment if you do so in the nude, that way you’ll never have to use a washing machine. Indeed, travel should only be undertaken when going out to plant saplings around the immediate neighbourhood. These will then grow into trees which can negate the carbon dioxide we pump out. In fact, such environmentally unfriendly activities as ‘commuting’, ‘shopping’ or ‘driving’ must cease altogether if we want future generations to feel okay about themselves.” But is it enough? What about those neighbours who refuse to spend several hours a week separating their rubbish, are unwilling to cycle the twenty miles to work, and can happily sunbathe in their garden without twinges of conscience driving them mad? “Such people should be reported and arrested.” Asserts Studs, finishing his pudding and motioning for us to pay the bill. “But until the necessary laws are in place, it is the duty of every citizen to use their abilities of persuasion. Convince the unconcerned they should feel bad about this way of life, knock on doors at random and spread the gospel, take pedestrians to task for not recycling their household waste, remove pollution spreading cars from the roads by any means necessary. At the moment we can’t rely on the authorities to do anything, since large organisations are immune to guilt. That leaves it up to ordinary people and their wives. Because, make no mistake, if we don’t sort this out soon these occasional spasms of remorse will be the least of our worries. Just think how bad we’d feel if one day our grandchildren were forced to live under the sea!”