In Depth

Instant Opinion: Earth Day 50 years on

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 22 April

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. John D. Sutter for CNN

on the planet’s troubling trajectory

Between ‘Blade Runner’ and utopia: Where we’re headed 50 years after the first Earth Day

“Global warming has been part of the national conversation for more than fifty years. Fifty years! It’s maddening that for all of the discussion, things have gotten far worse. In those five decades, we’ve dumped trillions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels for things like electricity, heat and fuel. (More than half of all industrial CO2 emissions since the Industrial Revolution in 1850 have occurred since the late 1980s, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.) Industry has succeeded at maintaining something like the status quo for a half-century, despite overwhelming evidence that the status quo kills people (via air pollution and dangerous warming, with its associated heat waves, fire, storms and so on) and is pushing the natural world headlong into the Earth’s sixth mass extinction.”

2. Simon Kelner in The i

on putting your foot in it

Harry and Meghan’s letter to the tabloids was tone-deaf and terribly timed

“We can draw only one conclusion from this week’s missive. If they wanted to disengage from the tabloids, which is their entitlement, they could have done just that. Not talk to them. No one need know. But in sending an open letter, dripping with pomposity and phoney portentousness, they made it clear that what they really wanted was that precious commodity for the young and ambitious: publicity. And in the midst of a global pandemic, too. How tone deaf is it possible to be? As a result, Harry and Meghan have lost any call on my sympathy and the tabloid editors will have read their letter with weary insouciance. The couple write in about being ‘currency’ for newspapers to exploit. I’m not sure their presence shifts that many papers any longer and the newspaper industry is beset by so many existential threats that the absence of the ex-Royals from their pages will hardly register on their list of concerns.”

3. Andrea M. Voyer and Jason J. Czarnezki in The Local (Sweden)

on the legitimacy of criticism

An American perspective on the Swedish coronavirus strategy

“To get it out of the way, the primary misconception is that Sweden is taking an experimental approach by doing nothing and letting the virus spread rapidly in the desire to build immunity. Swedish officials have repeatedly stated that the country is not pursuing a herd immunity strategy. Sweden’s goal now, like many other countries, is to flatten the curve (i.e. lowering the rate of infection so that the need for hospital beds and ICU units does not overwhelm the healthcare system). However, while the goal is the same (again, to flatten the curve), the Swedish method of achieving this goal is clearly different from the countries that rely upon a ‘lockdown’ strategy enforced by police and the military, or that have limited movement to ‘essential’ workers.”

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4. Katerina Cosgrove for Al Jazeera

on climate praxis

Is civil disobedience enough or do we need a climate revolution?

“Social transformation is slow. It takes decades to change hearts and minds. It will take even longer to implement an alternative, post-carbon society which intrinsically wants less, consumes less and is based locally rather than globally. This is a complex, ambitious, multigenerational goal. A radical revolution, on the other hand, while initially polarising, can move fast and eventually gain widespread support. The risk we face right now is that more global citizens may reach a point where old moral imperatives no longer hold water. As our situation becomes more dire, it may be a case of whatever gets the job done. Defence of Earth and self-defence are two concepts which cannot possibly be seen as controversial by even the most peace-loving and law-abiding among us.”

5. Patrick O’Flynn in The Telegraph

on a level head

Keir Starmer is showing the hysterical Left how effective opposition is done

“The Left still doesn’t understand the nature or extent of its defeat in December. It keeps on expecting to turn around a veritable oil tanker of public opinion in one go by deploying the political equivalent of the handbrake from an ancient Austin Metro. Interestingly, though, there is one senior Leftist who does seem to appreciate the basic political facts of life. And that is Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition. He hasn’t leapt aboard any ‘resign’ bandwagons. He has contented himself with broad and carefully calibrated observations about the Government being ‘too slow’ to respond at various points in the crisis.”


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