Climate change is a form of “extreme, horrific, longterm, widespread violence” akin to mass murder or nuclear war, claims American writer and cultural historian Rebecca Solnit in the Guardian’s Environment pages.
Ms Solnit – “the author of numerous books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie and memory” – argues that “carbon barons” like ExxonMobil are in the same league as nuclear powers which hold the option of “destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.”
In every arena, we need to look at industrial-scale and systemic violence, not just the hands-on violence of the less powerful. When it comes to climate change, this is particularly true. Exxon has decided to bet that we can’t make the corporation keep its reserves in the ground, and the company is reassuring its investors that it will continue to profit off the rapid, violent and intentional destruction of the Earth.
That’s a tired phrase, the destruction of the Earth, but translate it into the face of a starving child and a barren field – and then multiply that a few million times. Or just picture the tiny bivalves: scallops, oysters, Arctic sea snails that can’t form shells in acidifying oceans right now. Or another superstorm tearing apart another city. Climate change is global-scale violence, against places and species as well as against human beings. Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values. Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides that brutality.
Yes! The bivalves! Think of those tiny bivalves and weep at the thought that very soon, perhaps sooner than we realise, man will never know the joy of oysters Rockefeller or Coquilles St Jacques meuniere or even Moules Mariniere ever again.