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Why I’m looking for Utopia June 13th, 2018

Two maniacal despots are threatening to nuke each other. I wish my two small children would just get on, it’s exhausting. Jacob Rees Mogg, whose demeanour, attire and views on women’s reproductive rights and same sex marriage make him look like he’s fallen out of a Lowry painting and can’t get back in, is being tipped as the next Conservative leader. Coffee, chocolate and wine are running out.

I know what you’re thinking: “It isn’t running out you bremoaning snowflake dullard, I’ve just been to Sainsbury’s and they’ve got loads left. There’s a 2-for-1 offer on Bishops Finger.”

It is running out. Hot temperatures and a lack of water are making it hard to grow cocoa beans, grapes and hops. Climate change is the biggest threat to social drinking since they banned smoking in pubs. Ecosystems are collapsing, bees are dying, there is mass inequality, air pollution, plastic pollution and fatbergs are clogging up our sewers. Fatbergs are the stuff of nightmares.

In case you didn’t know, fatbergs are congealed lumps of fat, sanitary towels, wet wipes and nappies. Thames Water had to break up a 250 metre long, 130 tonne fatberg recently. Fatbergs will be exhibited in museums in years to come, as a symbol of humanity’s self-destructing behaviour, alongside a burgundy British/EU passport. Our children will gawp, open-mouthed at their grotesqueness, both literal and metaphorical, unable to comprehend how irresponsible their ancestors were.

As a Londoner, monster fatbergs coming to get me aren’t my only worry. There is also the constant terrorist threat (my six year old knows her school lockdown procedure better than she knows her two times table). The UK faces a housing shortage and our healthcare and education systems are at breaking point. We’re crashing out of the EU without access to the single market and the customs union. We’re spending billions of pounds on a fast train at the same time as facing a homelessness epidemic. We demonise the most needy and vulnerable in society yet find ways to rationalise mass tax evasion by multinationals and adored celebrities. And just this week we hear Doritos are bringing out a quieter range for women, because we don’t like making too much noise, apparently.

I feel like common sense is not prevailing. We need to re-think our priorities and responses. We’re seeing the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two and no-one has a plan. I know that huge environmental change and political instability are nothing new to the world. If Early Man can survive the Ice Age, I’m pretty sure he can survive Brexit and Trump. Whether Modern Man can survive the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements is another matter entirely.

Stephen Hawking says if we don’t pull our socks up now, humanity has about 100 years left, which would be a shame, not only for civilisation, but because according to the World Economic Forum, that’s how long it’s going to take for women to close the pay gap. I know Utopia doesn’t exist, but surely we can do better than this?

Bridget Christie’s Utopia is on Wednesdays at 6.30pm on BBC Radio 4 and then available to listen to online.


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