There’s much afoot in the world of change at the moment. New government, radical views on how government should be structured, radical new policies and, of course, the realities of climate change. All of these set us upon a course of consequential change ourselves, of our ways, our attitudes and our view of the outside world in the broadest of senses.
Amongst the plethora of changing topics we are facing, two have struck Bristling Brock over the last day or so with some degree of concern. One is the manner in which some new immigration processes might work and the second is the manner in which we are, not just in Britain but across the Western world, approaching environmental management. Both are thorny and controversial issues to which there are no simplistic solutions, but there are evident aspects of both that to BB require further examination.
So we’ll start todays diatribe with the proposed new immigration policy in Britain. Unquestionably, it was incumbent upon the new government to address this socially divisive matter. And it is perhaps in that socially divisive aspect that the concern arises. Managing immigration is necessary in a country as densely populated and geographically confined as Britain, but it is not solely to do with numbers, or those that have qualifications and those that do not, it is also very much about the social fabric of the nation. Critics will scorn this social reservation about immigration management as being old fashioned and elitist, driven by sentiment and nostalgia rather than by sound economic and liberal attitudes. And that’s a tacky matter in itself. That aside, we must recognise that there are parts of the country that push back against the idea of having an ever present flow of immigrants - irrespective of race or religion - arriving on their doorsteps purely on the basis that their cultural norms are different and the progressive adaptation of those norms to accommodate immigrant influences is seen as either just too fast or dangerously invasive. What suits the liberal, diverse and vocal populations of the south-east probably does not sit happily with the traditions, ways and attitudes of, say, the north-west where cultural values are pitched across an entirely different spectrum of expectational needs. In this we probably all need to adapt, update our cultural equilibrium and recognise that over the next half century the British population will become increasingly diversified and spread across umpteen different cultural inputs of colour, race, gender and, of course, multinational cultural influence. That is the nature of the change we face. How quickly we impose this across the board on our population needs some higher level of sensitivity in its approach for not every region looks upon its cultural roots and flexibility in the same way. It’s not anti-immigration, it is factoring in an awareness that not only do we need to manage such immigration, we need to also manage our regions need for cultural change and, significantly, the speed with which such change is demanded.
On environment there is much talk of the ‘credit’ system adopted by company’s, governments and other sources of pollution in paying to be excluded from controlling restrictions by buying a voucher for somebody else in the world to make the environmental adjustment on their behalf. Needless to say, the system is widely criticised for being both crass on the part of those who seek to purchase credits and also upon the chances of such subscribed funds ever being used effectively in other parts of the world on projects that protect environment rather than damaging it. We live in an unequal world and the chances of it ever becoming just ‘equal’ are as remote as pink elephants flying by. The West, belatedly aware of the need to address climate change, has adopted a position of being the arbiter of what’s good and beneficial throughout the entire world. So, with this badly devised credit system, polluters in the West can get a ‘Get out of jail card’ by donating money to a credit rather than changing their ways and hoping some indigenous inhabitant in an under-developed nation will take the money, stop chopping forest down and go and buy himself a Rolex instead. How anyone imagined such a system might actually work is something of a measure of how the world at large has recognised and approached the issues of climate change, ie, astronomically badly.
The flip side to this environmental argument is in the West’s righteous flag waving about the problem. The XR movement has rightly flagged many of the worlds issues up and has also rightly condemned the lack of meaningful action taken by governments around the world to control pollution but like any pressure group that gets itself wrapped up in political considerations it attracts a broad spectrum of supporters - some genuine and committed and some who are at the anarchic and revolutionary end of the scale whose purpose is political overthrow and chaos. Movements of every hue attract the genuine and the weird but the latter often destroy the good intent of the former by actions, publications or physical presence, eg, digging up a Cambridge University ancient lawn, which overshadow the original purpose of the movement.
What it shows us is that the environment is still not being seen as a sufficiently challenging crisis by governments and populations alike. The farmer in Africa or the Amazon has no desire to change his ways because his government, and world governments, have failed to make this a headline issue, the industrialist in the West has no desire to change his ways for exactly the same reasons - and buying your way out merely passes the problem down the line. In short, we are all guilty of neglect, selfishness and economic over world environmental concern. Somewhere down the line, someone will pay the price...the perpetrators would likely respond, ‘...as long as it’s not us.’