As the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. In 2017, I think we can quite reasonably say that Mother Nature is pissed.
It’s not like she didn’t warn us. She’s been slowly sounding alarm bells for decades now, ringing out as great shuddering cracks throughout the Arctic and hungry tides lapping ever further up shores in the Pacific - warnings that have been historically ignored by much of the world order. Yet, despite her wise counsel, she’s been forced to stand by and watch as Uncle Sam has ridden the charging bull of Wall Street to the brink, dragging the rest of the world along with him in a race to the bottom of the oil drum. No wonder she’s cross.
One such bull of Wall Street is currently galumphing around our backyard. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State and former CEO of ExxonMobil, is set to meet Prime Minister Bill English and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee at Parliament today. Forecast: It’s raining men, with a deluge of political bullshit developing in the afternoon.
In the lead-up to Tillerson’s arrival, Minister Brownlee gave an interview to TV3’s The Nation, speaking to journalist Lisa Owen about the agenda for Tillerson’s visit. Among his top priorities for today’s meeting are to “canvas trading relations” and to “reaffirm the various commitments we have internationally toward the defeat of terrorism,” he said.
He expects, he told Owen, that given the recent decision by Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris Agreement there will also be some discussion about “relative positions” on climate change, "but in the end, it is the trading relationship, but also the people-to-people relationship with the United States, including our involvement in the Antarctic, for example, that are pretty important to us," he said.
In the end, Gerry, when we’ve thoroughly cooked the planet and started fighting over the last remaining habitable bits of land, no one is going to give a rat’s arse about the trading relationship.
Minister Brownlee went on to at least affirm his belief that emissions are having a drastic effect upon our planet, but made no commitment to front Tillerson about the departure of the US from the historic climate change accord. As I watched him dipping, dodging and spinning around Owen’s well aimed questions, I couldn’t help but hear an old saying echoing down the decades: “The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.”
As a young-ish woman, watching Donald Trump lead the US back in time to heightened fossil fuel reliance fills me with uncertainty and dread. While Minister Brownlee, at 61, will likely not live to see the worst ravages of climate change, my millennial cohort almost certainly will.
If and when we have children, there’s a strong possibility that we will be bringing them into a world that sold its soul to the highest bidder without fully understanding the ramifications of such a deal. Tillerson and Trump will be long gone, but our tamariki will be the ones who have to mop up their giant messes. Climate change deniers, and the politicians who enable them, will go down in history as the greed-ridden thieves who stole our children’s future.
Now is not the time to pander to the biggest bully in the playground; the yellow-haired, orange-faced emperor, walking around starkers with no one to tell him that the whole world can see his bum. Now is the time to listen to Mother Nature. The higher range of her voice has no doubt turned down the volume of her pleas in the ears of many powerful men, but - like many women who’ve found themselves silenced by male bluster - she’s demonstrated that actions speak louder than words.
Her actions are screaming at us now.
Tillerson and Trump need to clean out their taringa. Perhaps Gerry Brownlee should offer them some eardrops.