Has Insulate Britain Achieved Anything?

Before I begin, I want to make clear that I do support the aims of Insulate Britain protesters. I applaud their bravery in blocking motorways around the country, when the risk of violence against them is so high. But has it convinced anyone in the country who wasn’t convinced already? I would say probably not.

We live in a country which has learned nothing from the covid-19 pandemic (which is still very much ongoing, contrary to popular opinion). Our commitment to the capitalist cause is unwavering and the vast majority of the country don’t have a clue about the impending climate disaster. People are still unwilling to switch to EVs, let alone getting rid of their cars for climate change. Not only that, they panic buy petrol and get into fights at filling stations, such is the sheer terror of having to live in a small country without access to a private car.

Under these circumstances, it’s entirely unsurprising that Insulate Britain has been a complete disaster and doomed to fail from the very beginning. Even the leader couldn’t catch a break when he went on Good Morning Britain. The over simplistic media are always more interested in a juicy case of hypocrisy than the overall picture. Not that he was a hypocrite anyway since he didn’t own his home and couldn’t afford to insulate it even if he did. But the media never let an unfortunate detail like that get in the way of a great gotcha moment.

So what have Insulate Britain achieved so far?

  • Made angry motorists even angrier
  • Been called hypocrites
  • Given the government an excuse to crack down even more on peaceful protest in a supposedly democratic country
  • Not convinced a single person of their agenda

Probably the biggest thing they’ve achieved is to teach other organisations how not to do it, as well as giving them a PR boost. Extinction Rebellion are going to be seen in a far more positive light for blocking city centres following this disastrous campaign by Insulate Britain. XR warn people and authorities in advance where they’ll be and for how long (to avoid being accused of blocking emergency vehicles). They also either create a party atmosphere or provide some kind of interesting performance aspect that attracts the media to cover it. They think things through far more, and people will now start to recognise that after seeing IB’s approach.

Don’t get me wrong, XR made some bad choices in the beginning and did some things that had a similar effect to Insulate Britain. However, they’ve generally improved over time and become smarter about choosing what types of action to do and what not to do. IB don’t seem to have learned anything at all.

Imagine if XR had started by blocking motorways a few years ago when people were even less sympathetic to calls for climate action than they are now. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that someone would have been killed by a motorist. We’ve seen it close to home in Worthing a few years ago when a man was killed by a fellow motorist after he left his car to talk to talk about a road rage incident.

So, what I would say to Insulate Britain protesters now is please find another way for your own safety. Go to town centres instead for example. Blocking motorways, airports, train stations and things like that will not work in this country. You’re putting your lives on the line for no reason. Mainstream British culture still has its fingers firmly stuck in its collective ears and is singing the la la song as loudly as anywhere in the world (even Australia).

Edit: I just saw a clip of an interview with Roger Hallam (co-founder of XR) where he said he would do the same thing as Insulate Britain did (not let a woman through to visit her mother in hospital) and would block an ambulance if necessary. I find that a very odd thing to say when you have an opportunity to distance yourselves from IB as they have been doing recently.

Green Growth And Vaccines Are Both Delusions

When you watch the mainstream media, you’ll notice this striking similarity between the climate crisis and the covid pandemic. The media can’t shake this firmly held belief that we have the solutions to both of these crises at our fingertips. The only issue is that unfortunately, neither crisis actually is actually being improved by these silver bullet fixes.

Solar is good. But not without slashing energy use.

To be clear, we do have the ability to solve these crises, as I’ve talked about ad nauseam. But the solutions are not vaccines and green growth. Conveniently enough, the solution for both is to end capitalism. Sadly though, the media will never tell you that. Or at least they won’t while we still have a chance to save ourselves. Presumably they’ll change their tune once it becomes obvious to everyone that it’s too late to avoid every coastal city in the world becoming a treasure trove for scuba divers.

Boris Johnson at the moment is talking about how frustrated he is with world leaders not doing enough about climate change. So much so that he almost managed to convince me that he cares about the environment. Of course that’s ridiculous. If he was actually mad at other world leaders, he would be mad at himself for pretty much everything he’s ever said and done regarding the climate.

Vaccines are good. But not without masks, distancing and paying people to stay home.

What he’s actually angry at is the possibility that he’s going to look bad when COP26 is a disaster and it reflects badly on him. He doesn’t care if any agreement is based on a fake solution of green growth with a ridiculous target of Net Zero in 29 years from now. All he cares about is that he can take the plaudits for “solving” climate change in Glasgow. Anything that happens after that (eg society collapsing, life on Earth ending) would just be a coincidence and nothing to do with him.

It would be really helpful if very soon we start to appreciate the real solutions, rather than glorifying fake ones.

Electoral Politics Don’t Matter Any More

Even if the Greens or similar left-wing parties win the next election in every single country around the world (which unfortunately isn’t going to happen), it still wouldn’t be enough to give humanity a chance of survival. The climate crisis is far too advanced for that.

What we need is an immediate change to the way societies are run, and that is impossible within the political and economic systems that currently govern our lives no matter where we live. It can only happen now through protest, strikes, and generally refusing to live the way society wants us to.

An example of how useless electoral politics now are is in Japan, where there is a higher chance a far-right nationalist leader will be the new PM than the centre-left CDP forming a government. And there is zero chance of any left-wing party making any real impact.

Recently, we’ve been seeing record job vacancies and employers struggling to attract workers back. People have realised that they are endlessly disrespected with slave wages and poor conditions. They’re sick of it and they want to get off the hamster wheel. And this is exactly what we need; the people to hit the elites where it hurts. Once the ruling class of mostly boomers realise that the game is up (no matter how much they attempt to rig democracy), they’ll escape in the life rafts. We’ll be left with a sinking capitalist ship, but at least we’ll have a chance to swim to the eco-communist island. But it has to happen in the next year or so for it to be salvageable. If we wait another 4 or 5 years for the next elections, it will be too late. Especially because it doesn’t seem likely that the right kind of parties would win even then.

Covid will Never End Until we act on Climate

After a year and a half of covid chaos in the UK and around the world, I think it’s fair to assume at this point that covid-19 will not end until we get serious about the climate crisis. Specifically, that means ending capitalism and reducing consumption drastically and immediately.

Technically, New Zealand has proven that you actually can continue with capitalism while still keeping covid at bay and protecting your citizens. But you need to do short and sharp full lockdowns every time local cases begin. We’ve seen just today Jacinda Ardern putting NZ in lockdown for one locally transmitted case. That might sound strange to people in the UK for example since we currently have 30k cases per day (officially) and no restrictions, but it’s what a good government does.

But because most countries seem incapable of learning that very simple lesson, we won’t end covid globally that way. And even if we could, it wouldn’t solve the aforementioned capitalism and consumption issues that are wrecking our climate. So that leaves climate action (specifically system change) as the only option.

If we end capitalism, and we move to a type of system where we live more local lives and people are provided the basics to live, then it would be incredibly easy to stay away from others and end the spread. People wouldn’t be forced to go to work where they could catch or spread the virus. A roof over their head, food on the table, water, heat, etc would be guaranteed. Poverty and homelessness would be consigned to the history books.

Every day we keep doing nothing, we’re making both crises worse and worse, leading to unnecessary suffering and the deaths of a huge number of people. We have to ask ourselves whether this is really the way we want to live when we can have so much better. Will we say enough is enough and force an end to the type of politics that is unwilling and incapable of doing anything about covid or climate?

I really hope so, but it has to be soon. COP26 can’t be a green growth summit with weak goals for 2050. This system isn’t working. Take a look around you and ask yourself how much of what you see is making your life better and happier? And when you realise not very much of it is, stop living the way society wants you to.