Climate crisis, energy crisis and a beer crisis too? A Winter of Discontent looms once again – Vladimir McTavish

The planet must have reached a pretty bad state when Boris Johnson tells us we have to “grow up”.

Saturday, 25th September 2021, 4:55 am
Even Boris Johnson is telling the world to grow up about climate change (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/WPA pool/Getty Images)

Pontificating to the UN about climate change, as if he was the person who had just discovered it, Johnson then proceeded to quote Kermit the Frog, leaving the assembled world leaders baffled about who was actually supposed to be growing up.

The sad fact is that climate change is a problem that scientists have warned about for over 30 years, and successive governments ignored. Indeed the current UK government’s policy for reducing carbon emissions appears to be making gas too expensive for any of us to use, so we all turn the heating off.

Hopefully you are not having to wear two pullovers, a woolly hat and a pair of gloves when you go to bed. You may not be so lucky in a couple of months’ time.

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People of my generation have seen all this before. I am old enough to remember the fuel crisis of the early Seventies which resulted in the three-day week, when television shut down at nine in the evening, leading to a surge in the birth-rate nine months later. Our parents had nothing else to do on those long winter nights.

I also remember the “Winter of Discontent” in 1978-79, where rubbish piled high on the streets amid Arctic temperatures. Prime Minister Jim Callaghan returned to the UK from a winter break in warmer climes and sought to play down the situation in words that prompted the immortal headline “Crisis? What crisis?”

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At the time, I was a student in Newcastle living in a flat with an outside lavvy where the cistern was frozen over for two months and I had to walk two miles to my then-girlfriend's parent’s house to use the toilet. While those circumstances kept an already-doomed relationship alive longer than its natural course, the public's unhappiness at those circumstances ultimately led to the election of Margaret Thatcher.

We have not reached such a critical condition yet, but we are certainly facing a major crisis. Gas providers are going bust by the day. We are assured by the government that the heat and lights will not be turned off. Which means that they almost certainly will be turned off.

In the longer term, we do need to move to a carbon-neutral future. I personally care about the future of the planet, even though it really is none of my business. I am 62, and I’m from Glasgow. Statistically, I died five years ago.

I’m doing my bit, as even though I still drive a car, I’m now 75 per cent carbon-neutral, which has take a few years to achieve. I’ve done this by running up nine points on my driving licence, so I am three-quarters of the way to being 100 per cent carbon-neutral. Hopefully, I can get stopped for speeding one more time before Cop26 to show the World how seriously Scotland views global warming.

In the long term, we need to shift away from fossil fuels as an energy resource. In the meantime, let’s all go to the pub to forget about it, Wait a minute, no we can’t. There’s likely to be no draft beer due to a serious shortage of CO2. Now that really is a crisis!

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