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The beginning of summer 2021 will go down in history as a turning point, just like the summer of 1936, when the Western democracies chose to distract themselves rather than rearm in the face of warmongering dictatorships: are we, all over the planet, like all the naive people of the past, going to continue to delude ourselves? Are we going to believe in the imminent end of the pandemic, in the inevitable return of growth and employment? Are we going to cling to some very good news, get excited about some spectacular Olympic competitions, after having been ecstatic about football players? Or are we going to become aware and finally attach importance to what is really going on right now? Will we finally understand that we must turn the tables and act very, very quickly? Are we going to understand that, for the next elections, especially in France, only radical programs will be credible?
Everything shows that the climatic upheaval is much faster and much more extreme than what the most alarmist models predicted. Everything establishes that the pandemic is still here for a long time, that vaccines are still very insufficiently deployed, and that the variants are multiplying, more and more offensive (we are at the delta stage; what will happen when we reach the zeta or the omega stage?) Everything establishes that the worst can come back in the fall, crushing exhausted people, health systems at the end of their rope, and poor people who are more destitute than ever.
All this should not lead us to despair: we have all the technological, financial and human means to avoid it. In fact, many people are reassuring themselves at little cost: the switch to non-carbon energies is underway, they say, at great speed; means of electric transport, or with hydrogen, are almost everywhere available. Vaccines are now mass-produced, available worldwide and can be adapted very quickly to needs.
The only problem is that the production and development of non-carbon based mobility is far too slow compared to the need. Similarly, the production, distribution and acceptance of vaccines are so slow that variants will have plenty of time to mutate until they can bypass this barrier. Moreover, there is no sign of serious action to address other major problems that this crisis reveals and exacerbates: health systems everywhere are on the verge of bankruptcy, with shamefully poorly paid staff and inadequately modernized equipment; training systems are on the brink of disaster. Similarly, nothing is being done to reduce the consumption of artificial sugars, to allow the children of the world to play sports every day or to feed them healthily.
Certainly, the richest will always find where to take care of themselves, where to educate their children, where to live protected from climate disturbances and pandemics; but the people will sink even more than today into the misfortunes that are coming.
All this for the passion of distraction. We remember with fear, today, the people who were enthusiastic about the Olympic Games in Berlin, and saw in them a proof of general goodwill and a guarantee of a peaceful future. And yet, only three years later, the worst predictable catastrophe fell on the planet. Will we know not to make the same mistake again? Will we know not to let ourselves be lulled again by the poison of distraction?
Problems advance at a leopard’s pace; solutions progress at a tortoise’s pace.
Time is our worst enemy and our greatest asset. What is cruelly lacking is a general mobilization, to use seriously, massively, the formidable means that are coming and make them really available. For this, all the promised deadlines must be shortened. All companies, all governments, must commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 at the latest, and not by 2040, or 2050, which is a farce. They must all commit to redirecting all means of investment towards non-carbon energies, health, education, organic farming, hygiene, research. To create the conditions for equal access for all, from all social backgrounds and of all kinds, to the means of a decent life.
It is possible. With a real mobilization. On a global scale. By understanding that nothing, in our private lives as well as in our public lives, will be settled without a maximum of efforts. That distraction, no matter how wonderful, will not save us from barbarism and collapse. Everything is in our hands.
We just have to want it. Very quickly. This summer.