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There's a world to win - don't go down without a fight

This opinion piece is almost 3 years old

TFN editor Graham Martin on the fight of our lives - and why you must back Climate Scotland

There’s a Shakespeare gag that runs along the lines of something-and-something (I ain’t no Shakey scholar, sorry) is like “rash-embrac’d despair and shuddering fear”.

I’ve often joked that these are the words I’d like hammered onto any tombstone that might sit on top of me while I moulder. Those or the Larkin line about life being “first boredom, then fear”.

There’s a perverse pleasure in this sort of gloom-mongering. There’s probably something clever and psychological to say here about facing our fears by making light of them, but I’m not sure what it is if I’m being honest. But I think that when we exercise these thoughts, we don’t really believe in them – it’s like a horror film. Fans of 80s made-for-TV classic Salem’s Lot know that the ghost of Ralphie Glick isn’t really going to come a-tapping at their window tonight.

But there are certain, all too real areas where it would be easy to embrace despair and fear - rash, shuddering or otherwise.

I was on holiday on Arran recently and I did my best to avoid the news for a few days. But it seeped through, a sort of unavoidable information-slick. The heat dome. The terrifying temperatures in the Pacific north-west. Areas seeing heat levels that humans can’t physically survive in. Jesus, even the sea – the actual sea – was aflame in the Gulf of Mexico.

There’s a persuasive school of thought that it is all too late. That the clock ticked past midnight some time ago while we were all distracted, playing with our plastic clackers.

More than a century ago, we were warned (thank you Rosa Luxemburg) that the future of humanity under capitalism was a choice between creating a sane economic system and barbarism, “the ruin of all contending classes”. We looked at the choices – the gilded domes of the rational, prosperous eco-future or McDonalds Happy Meal Minions. And we chose the minions.

Recent events, and I include Covid in this, are just the antibiotic-stuffed chickens coming home to roost – the beginning of the end.

But as persuasive as this is, I can’t completely buy it. If nothing else, it’s a cop-out. If our future is set already, we’ll find out soon enough. Instead, I think there is just about enough hope to banish despair and the shuddering fear.

On the aforementioned holiday, I visited the Arran COAST visitor centre. This is an award-winning charity that is taking steps to combat the climate collapse by re-seeding an area of seabed in Lamlash Bay. It’s a small project – but the effects have been transformative, and it shows what can be done and how nature can rebound with vigour. The scaling up potential of projects like this are obvious.

We just have to realise that while the objective reality is bleak, we are the active, subjective factor here, and we can change everything.

This is one of the many reasons I urge you to back the Climate Scotland campaign, which has been launched ahead of Cop26. Back this and back every local and national campaign you can. This is a war on all fronts, a fight for survival – and it will take profound political and economic change if we are to prevail.

There is a world to win – and, nicking a line from Blake this time, maybe there’s still time to “build a heaven in Hell’s despair”.

And if not? Well, why go down without a fight?

Graham Martin is editor of TFN.

This editorial is from the latest edition of TFN magazine - read the rest here.