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UK Government's £5 million 'research initiative' is too little too late

On Friday, August 6, the Government announced the creation of a research programme to help the UK "adapt and become more resilient to climate change." The Government promises that the committee will produce high-quality scientific research into the effects of coming heat waves and extreme weather conditions, and that the work will assist in the development of a practicable strategy of protection.

Here are the main points they announced:

  • new £5 million research programme to help the UK adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change

  • research will inform the UK’s strategy to prepare for and protect against the impacts of climate change, such as heatwaves, flooding and extreme storms

  • programme is a key step in the government’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by the middle of this century

Remember as a kid when you'd practice different kinds of logic games to learn about comparisons and differences and analogies and patterns, and one of the popular ones was 'one of these is not like the other'? One of the above three bullet points is not like the other. A programme to help the UK adapt and become resilient? Good. A strategy for protection? Good. Still hanging onto the worthless goal of maybe reaching net zero emissions in THIRTY YEARS? Not good. That's simply not enough after everything we've learned. Net zero in a few decades would have been a reasonable suggestion maybe back when Al Gore first started talking about the climate. But not now. In 30 years, we will all be long since royally forked, even the royals.

On the surface, this seems like an innocuous announcement, and that's clearly all the government wanted from this, an unassailable facade with no teeth. The average person will see this news and think, oh the government is putting millions of pounds into helping address climate change? okay, sounds good. The problem is, the research has been done. The facts have been known. Scientists and other experts have been saying the same thing for decades now, and every new study and briefing and IPCC report reiterates that the time for mediocre actions is so far in the past that we have long passed the line we weren't ever supposed to cross. The line is a dot to us. The UK government assures citizens that it cares about our salvation with points 1&2, soothing our worries with promises that we will somehow find resilience against planetary demise, that we will develop a strategy together to protect us from extreme catastrophe. And then it pulls the rug out from under us, stating their ultimate goal of 'success', which is nothing of value, an obsolete target of success, a drop of water in a rapidly rising ocean.

The presidential designate for this fall's COP26 summit, Alok Sharma, reinforced that this programme demonstrates the country's commitment to meet net zero emissions by the middle of the century. Net zero emissions by 2050 is not a serious goal, and it's disheartening that the COP representative thinks it is. We needed net zero emissions yesterday to even envision the idea of recognizable human life sustained in 2050. This creation of a committee is a masterclass in delay: first, they create the committee; then, the committee does research about climate change - research that is already done; then the committee makes recommendations in some years (how much redundant research do they need to do?); then, the recommendations will be criticised on political grounds. Farmers will need to be mollified. The researchers will dial back their already weak ideas and offer something new and even weaker. People will say 'oh at least the government is trying!' but by this point, we will already be either underwater or on fire.

And the government knows this. Anyone with any awareness of the world knows this. Hollow gestures like this committee will not save us from climate change. We need drastic, serious action from serious people. It's hypocrisy at its finest that the country hosting the COP26 summit can say anything about addressing climate change when they continue to approve decisions like e.g. the Cambo oil field in Scotland. The establishment of this committee is another way for the government to avoid having to make (politically) difficult but necessary decisions that would end this sort of harmful development. This is a way for them to continue establishing oil fields and approving factory farm planning permissions with abandon while saying 'hey but we really do care about the planet, look at this committee that we have doing...research.' If they want to do anything real, they should look at the decisions they're making instead of throwing a few million pounds at an empty shell of a pretense.

Net zero emissions is an important milestone. But not for 2050. For as soon as possible. Because net negative emissions is the only goal worth boasting about. It is a shame that the only people with the power to do something to save the world would rather not do anything. Have they given up on the possibility of a future? Are they all thinking, well I had a good run, too bad for everyone else though?

This announcement demonstrates the government's blatant lack of seriousness and care about the climate crisis. Not only are the goals outdated and now meaningless, but they are pushing these antiquated benchmarks further into the future, compounding the problems with their approach. Remember in "Troop Beverly Hills" when Velda Plendor is asking all the troops how many boxes of cookies they plan to sell and her Red Feathers are like "one thousand boxes!" and Troop Beverly Hills is like "TWO thousand boxes!" and then that other troop, Mar Vista maybe, is like "um, forty?" and Velda's like "what?? how many?" and Mar Vista goes, "uh, forty-two??" That's the UK government.

We don't need more research. We know. Everyone knows. This is four years of wasted time. We need real action, not political action, but world-changing actions. I will eat my words if this committee actually tells the government that they need to immediately cut factory farms and oil rigs, but I doubt that will happen. Also, £5 million is not a lot of money. I mean, for me it is, but not for a committee that is ostensibly supposed to SAVE THE COUNTRY FROM CERTAIN CATASTROPHE. This amount all but screams that the government isn't actually taking this seriously. This amount states clearly that this venture is nothing but a pat on our heads saying 'yes dear, we are definitely doing something about your future, oh don't worry about that.' The Government decided it was cheaper to throw £5 million at a house of cards than to go door-to-door kicking all of us in the nards.

The reality of the situation is a fact, not an opinion. Our reality is confirmed. The question is not whether it's true or not. The question is whether the people who can do something about it will actually do anything about it. Remember how every (remaining) state came together at the end of "Independence Day" to work together to save the planet? That's the kind of paradigm-changing action we need, but please, for the love of g-d (and Harvey Fierstein), do it before the majority of the planet is destroyed.

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