A lockdown letter to the PM
Dear Prime Minister
I am writing to you and members of the cabinet to ask you all to tell the truth, to listen to the scientists and to act in the best interests of the whole nation and the world regarding all three emergencies facing the world – climate breakdown, the extinction of species and Covid19.
To gain any credibility you must first acknowledge your mistakes. As far as Covid19 is concerned, you clearly failed in your duty to protect by not preparing for a pandemic when advised to do so and later by not following WHO advice to test and trace, and in missing opportunities to get PPE equipment. Your lax handling of this pandemic has almost certainly led to many unnecessary deaths and will lead to more. The claim that the government is following medical advice to do the right thing at the right time sounds very hollow.
You can’t undo these mistakes. You can only do your best in the present and for the future. You must be truthful and transparent about the dangers and the means of controlling the virus while not forgetting other emergencies.
Going forward, you must act to reverse climate breakdown and the extinction of species which you have so far not treated with enough urgency, have not followed scientists‘ advice and have not told the truth.
There must be no talk of bouncing back and returning to normal. The normal was killing us. The continuous growth in production and consumption, the use of fossil fuels with widespread habitat destruction, pollution and degradation in pursuit of profits has caused global warming, the extinction of species and probably also Covid19 and other dangerous virus infections. You must heed such obvious warning signs. Covid19 has slightly cooled the earth temporarily. We must use this time to develop an economic model which answers the needs of people in balance with the globe’s resources. The Doughnut Economy developed by Kate Raworth would be a good place to start, alongside figures given by scientists for essential carbon savings over the next 10 years.
In the UK, overcoming Covid19 has been, and will be, hampered by the drastic austerity cuts in the NHS and almost all other essential services which also led to increased poverty and inequality. Going forward, addressing our damaged services, extreme social inequality and making urgent cuts to carbon emissions must all be priorities along with sustaining everyone in a completely uncertain and unpredictable economic future. I suggest a Citizens’ Income would be a better solution (and easier to deliver) than the many different schemes Rishi Sunak has put in place to try and maintain the existing economic strata, with similar levels of inequality. Covid19 has proved how important everyone is, the volunteer, the cleaner, the shelf stacker, etc.
A green and caring economy must be developed. As far as possible a local economy to reduce the carbon costs of transport. In 1992 the UN Conference declared that Sustainable Development must come from the grass roots. Only local people know their priorities and their resources. That conference was focused on developing countries. But, we are all now in that position. Reliance on the market, privatisation, austerity and central control have failed. Governments will need the skill and knowledge of countless people to develop a sustainable way of life. A national government and a much more decentralised system might be more sensible.
Pursuing Brexit at this time would be ludicrous. How can we possibly know what sort of relationship we want with the EU or any other countries when everything about the future is uncertain? It would be a criminal waste of energy here and in the EU when so much else needs doing.
Finally, telling the truth should spread to considering big changes to our so called defence system. Covid19 has exposed the lack of investment in controlling one very real risk, and the contrasting billions spent on dubious types of military hardware – many of which do not seem to relate to the real threats of today and have more to do with some deluded idea of status. In particular the horror of Trident, a weapon of mass destruction which breaks our commitments to humanitarian law. Trident, rather than the safe deterrent claimed, is in fact a very real threat to our survival and civilisation in general, not least through accidental use. A criminal waste of money and resources.
I ask you to use all your influence to support the considerable reforms needed.