Vying for attention? The climate crisis versus Brexit

In the past few years there have been two things ever present in our daily conversations, our daily life, and our daily media consumption. Those two things are, of course, the climate crisis and Brexit (not to mention Trump, but we will not talk about him just now). Climate change and the upcoming repercussions have been widespread knowledge since the 1980s. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988 and soon presented data on a climate emergency, and preventative plans for this fast approaching crisis.

Somehow the issue has only gained real traction in the last year (over 30 years since it was first identified as an actual “uh oh” issue). Thanks Greta! Brexit, on the other hand, has been on every news channel and in every paper since the vote passed three years ago, constantly taking attention away from so many pressing issues that remain unaddressed.

But, the terrifying end is in sight, and we have 31 October as a scheduled date for our departure from the EU. The one, and hopefully not the only, good thing that may come out of it is a freeing up of content for media sources, instead of constant, incessant, updates about deals, no deals, new Prime Ministers, new proposals, suspensions, elections; the list goes on and on.

Hopefully, when we no longer have all of this to talk about, there will be space to address issues like climate action and question what we should actually be doing to solve this very real problem. While individual consumer choices are important, it is a systematic change we need. Not a change that puts the pressure on the individual while taking attention away from governments and big companies — as it is those which are really contributing to the  destruction.

Hopefully, once this whole Brexit thing is out of the way, more energy can be invested in solutions for this crisis, and one can hope we will see more updates on new policies that paint an optimistic perspective on how we are going to tackle our future, or potential lack thereof, when we turn on our televisions or scroll down Twitter.

One can hope. Trends from the last 30 years suggest that we may just find some other topic to whine about while our planet burns in the background, especially if we continue to depend on those ‘reliable’ representatives in Parliament to contribute to the real systematic change needed. Modern history demonstrates  how significant economic benefit is when informing such decision making, so the current proposals of billions of pounds worth of investment, for example, into mechanical projects to suck carbon away, may not fall in the MPs most pressing interests. Yet again, another excuse to push the Earth’s future to the back burner, so to speak.

However, there is reason to remain hopeful. The other key trend evident in informing political decision making is public pressure and advocacy. And the public, especially the young public, is currently putting a whole lot of pressure on our governments. There is potential for real change if we continue to make our voices even louder… So that once attention steers away from the Brexit mess, we can really be heard.

 

Illustration: Katie Moore

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The Student Newspaper 2016