The politics of this new, extreme individualism will make collective responses to social crises impossible
Soon, a few of the more shameless newspaper commentators will urge the rest of us to “learn to live” with climate breakdown. Soon, a couple of especially sharp-elbowed cabinet ministers will sigh to the Spectator that, yes, carbon emissions should ideally be slashed – but we must make a trade-off between “lives and livelihoods”. Soon, a little platoon of Tory backbenchers will respond to TV pictures of another devastating flash flood or deadly heatwave by complaining about “fearmongering”. “Why is the BBC so doomy?” they’ll ask, as the death toll rises.
Soon, shockingly soon, the cheap shots, the brazen stat-bending and the coprophagic cynicism that have warped British discourse since March 2020 will migrate from Covid to an even bigger and more lethal crisis: the climate emergency. And just as they have helped shape the self-inflicted catastrophe that England has embarked upon this week, so they will work their terrible influence on that one.