By Peter Matthews
The new president of the United States has been busy undoing some of the madder policies of the previous administration and it does feel as though we have reached calmer waters.
Four years with the Orange Don at the helm was a choppy ride indeed. What amazes me is that so much power to do harm was vested in one apparently small pair of hands. The fear which many felt when he came to power turns out to have been justified. Sensible people the world over watched in horror and dismay as he tore down environmental protections across his own country, yanked the US out of the World Health Organisation and the Paris Climate Agreement, and generally rode roughshod over anything he either didn’t like or didn’t understand – which covers most things.
When Joe Biden got in, he was widely touted as a safe pair of hands, but he is being a lot more pro-active than expected, particularly in going after fossil fuels. Word has it that there are tremors running through the upper echelons of that industry – could it be that the foundations are beginning to crumble?
Some have even dared to suggest that ‘peak oil’ has passed – the world’s oil consumption may have passed its maximum. If that is the case global oil production will now be on a rapid slope to zero.
So can we now feel a bit better about the planetary plight?
I think we can.
With fossil fuels on the run the spotlight will focus increasingly on other ‘climate culprits’ and each will gradually fall to a three-pronged attack:
1: Legislation – governments will enact ever greener policies.
2: Market forces: As the old ways fall from favour, research and development funding is being and will continue to be directed increasingly towards sustainable endeavours thereby making ‘greenness’ more economically viable.
3: The will of the people: As more people make more effort to be green, so more people will join them. Those who don’t care will, thankfully, die out before they can actually render the planet uninhabitable.
Of course, it won’t all be plain sailing. There has already been immeasurable damage done; none of the species which have become extinct will ever return, and I fear there are many more to go.
But in general, along with the new administration in the US, there is an optimism in the air which has not been felt for some time – four years at least.
On the local front, a couple of readers have asked me to commend two local retailers on their sustainable ethics and practices: Fill Good in Victoria Street and Forage In Empire Street both in Cambridge. Take in your own containers to weigh and refill for many common household items including low or no waste options. I hope we can all support these progressive and responsible businesses.
Let’s hear about Waipā’s environmental heroes – contact me at [email protected]