This week sees a full moon reach its shiny best in Gemini. The Gemini Full Moon is traditionally a sociable if chilly one, the last moon before the Midwinter Solstice and associated festivals, heralding the much hyped season of goodwill. Gemini is a generally convivial star sign, ruled by Mercury the silver tongued communicator, so this a recommended full moon to don one’s party hat and chat to everyone, whilst remaining coherent enough to follow any little intuitive nudges of social inquisitiveness we might otherwise ignore. If there’s a big decision to be made we might want to delay it for a couple of weeks, simply enjoy the gemini revelry, then assess the lay of the land when the dust has settled later in the month. Sometimes known as the Cold Moon, it historically signalled the Northern Hemisphere need to hunker down with the food and drink gathered and fermented during late summer harvests to ride out the coldest months in varied states of anaesthetized inebriation…. far be it from me to suggest that’s a suitable archetype to follow until after Christmas this year.
This Gemini Moon rises just after the conclusion of the COP27 Climate Conference and smack in the middle of football’s World Cup. These two huge international events, controversially billed by their respective organisers as the greatest opportunities of 2022 to unite people across the planet, have met mixed reviews: both accused of protecting the interests of the richest oil burning world economies, multinational corporations and associated wealthy individuals. Perhaps the most damning accusation levelled at both events is that they have knowingly undermined fundamental human rights which, in the case of the World Cup, has been recognised to have led to thousands of avoidable deaths.
The failures of last year’s COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow featured heavily in my article last month and persuaded many climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, to boycott this year’s COP27 event, considering it a waste of time, money and carbon emissions; an unwelcome platform for host nation Egypt’s anti democratic, authoritarian regime (currently detaining more than 60,000 political prisoners) and yet another opportunity to spout vast volumes of politicised hot air when hot air is the last thing the planet’s atmosphere currently needs.
The conference finally concluded 40 hours beyond its deadline, with an agreement to create a Loss and Damage Fund for those poorer countries worst hit by the traumas of climate violence. That all sounds hunky dory, surely a step in the right direction toward climate justice, but fairly predictably none of the richest world economies agreed to put any money into the kitty. It currently remains an empty vessel devoid even of empty promises. The planet’s poor and vulnerable are still at the greatest risk of climate disaster displacement and death with no signs of their nation states receiving any financial support to rebuild lives and livelihoods destroyed by the historic and contemporary carbon chewing excesses of the richest economies.
Several world leaders were bitterly disappointed by the additional failure of the conference to address the continuing rise of global fossil fuel emissions. The chair of last year’s conference, Alok Sharma, was reported to be visibly angry and on the brink of tears during this year’s closing speeches. In between thumping the desk for effect he listed the COP26 commitments weakened or lost at COP27:
“Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary: not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal: not in this text. A commitment to phase out all fossil fuels: not in this text. And the energy text [referencing the extraction and use of gas] weakened in the final minutes.”
Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group of former world leaders, ex-president of Ireland and twice a UN climate envoy, weighed in with further discontent: “The world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe. Progress made on [cutting emissions] has been too slow. We are on the cusp of a clean energy world, but only if G20 leaders live up to their responsibilities, keep their word and strengthen their will.”
António Guterres, secretary general of the UN, warned: “Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this Cop  did not address.”
Sharma concluded dramatically: “I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5C [maximum rise in Global temperature] was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support.”
It brought to mind the infamous speech given by Greta Thunberg at a Youth4Climate conference in Milan a month or so before COP26 last year. She sucked in the onstage dignitaries by regurgitating a few of the regular climate conference platitudes she must have heard countless times, which naturally received rapturous applause from everyone present, before she kicked off unexpectedly in proper Thunberg style:
“When I say ‘climate change,’ what do you think of? I think of jobs - green jobs..(applause)....We must find a smooth transition towards a low-carbon economy …(louder applause).. There is no Planet B…(wild applause)…There is no Planet Blah—blah, blah, blah; blah, blah, blah.” The dignitaries and audience fell awkwardly silent.
“Build Back Better…..blah, blah, blah,” she continued. “Green economy…..blah, blah, blah. “Net zero by 2050…..blah, blah, blah. “Net zero…..blah, blah, blah. “Climate neutral…..blah, blah, blah.
“This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: words - words that sound great, but so far have led to no action. Of course we need constructive dialogue, but they’ve now had thirty years of blah, blah, blah, and where has that led us?” End of.
What can I say? I’m an unapologetic Greta fan. Does that make me a Thunny?
And the World Cup? I’ll spare this valued readership detail of the many corruption scandals involved in Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010, save to say that on the very same day, the 2018 World Cup was awarded to that great bastion of respected human rights, Russia. One of the senior FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) delegates was apparently ‘gifted’ a Picasso painting by Vladimir Putin in the run up to that decision.
Despite even worse corruption charges faced subsequently by the majority of the FIFA awarding committee responsible for the Qatar decision, the decision stood and here we are in 2022 witnessing a sportwashing spectacle that has been built with slave labour, claiming 6500 innocent lives in a country where it’s illegal to be gay and where unmarried women need permission from a male guardian to travel abroad. Needless to say, FIFA is still struggling to shake its public image as a corrupt, filthy rich organisation that continues to make huge profits from the deaths of poverty stricken, Kafala system abused, construction workers.
Where there’s money, there is the devil; but where there’s none, a greater evil.
On top of that, the FIFA president Gianni Infantino, inbetween incredulously considering himself simultaneously gay, African, an immigrant worker and disabled at the eve of tournament press conference, also suggested that the entire event is carbon neutral. This immediately aroused scepticism, it being the first ever World Cup to be constructed from scratch without employing an existing stadium to host a match. All of the associated tournament infrastructure is of course completely new. That’s going to cause a few emissions surely?
Informed estimates suggest that the tournament will have a carbon footprint approaching 6 million tonnes of CO2e. That’s well over double the 2018 tournament in Russia and rivals the annual carbon footprint of Morocco with a population of 37 million. The organiser’s claim to have offset these emissions in carbon credits has been proven to be disingenuous nonsense.
Carbon neutral….blah blah blah! Workers rights..…blah blah blah! Gender equality…..blah blah blah! LGBQT+ rights…..blah blah blah! Sportswash/greenwash…..blah blah blah blah blah blah bloody blah….!
And a final fabulous footie related statistic: since the 1990 World Cup in Italy, human activity has emitted as much CO2 as in all of recorded history before that tournament began. 30 years. Mamma mia! Blah blah Bleughh…..
Power is only too happy to make football bear a diabolical responsibility for stupefying the masses.
(Jean Baudrillard, sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist)
I suspect Greta won’t be travelling to Qatar for the tournament and not just because her home nation Sweden didn’t qualify. The whole obscenely decadent, greedy, uncaring display, so soon after the COP27 debacle, is indicative of our current global predicament. We know the science, we know the climate is in freefall but we’re so reticent to change our thinking and behaviour. After all, there’s football or celebrities in a jungle or on a dance floor to watch, and fried chicken to be delivered to our doorsteps during commercial breaks. We know we shouldn’t fly in our personal jets, drive our gas guzzling, plush 4x4s, eat steak or heat our swimming pools but who still wouldn’t do so given half the chance? We are in thrall to the distracting entertainment/advertising industrial complex that has dictated unsustainable levels of consumerism as if there were no tomorrow - and very soon there won’t be for many of us. The lifestyle aspirations tantalisingly dangled before us are the authors of our species’ perpetual discontent and likely demise, eviscerating the rest of the Earth’s precious biodiversity en route.
In our current, consumer addled malaise, the only model of international unity and ‘success’ that has received investment running into billions, appears to feature 22 badly tattooed blokes running round an artificially laid patch of turf chasing a ball. The Qatar World Cup is estimated to have cost more than $220 billion to stage and will generate $6.5 billion in advertising revenues. The organisers FIFA stand to make $7 billion alone. That’s a very different model to one that might equate international success with globally financed solutions to the perilous state of our planet, and the climate violence now afflicting millions of its poorest and most vulnerable people. It’s a very different model to that provided by the ‘lauded’ but empty COP27 ‘loss and damage’ begging bowl.
We search nonetheless, for glimmers of hope under this Gemini Full Moon. Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has just published an article (recommended reading) calling for a refinancing of developing nation debt as well as a range of measures that would raise more investment capital for poorer nations to reduce their carbon emissions and transition to green energy powered, sustainable, more stable economies. Such progressive, reframed economic thinking should find a way swiftly into Government strategic policy, which cannot be accomplished without political engagement from an electorate demanding change to the prevailing system. And that’s where we come in folks!
As individuals we have a vital role to play from the democracy of our living rooms. If we’re not prepared to boycott events like the Qatar World Cup from our screens entirely, then refusing to buy any of the products advertised during broadcasts sends a clear message to those profiteering from the unaccounted costs of consumerism levied on the rest of the planet. Turn off those ads folks.
And, if we’re not prepared to publicly protest at the inept blah blah representations made by our politicians at climate conferences, let’s ensure we vote for different ones with more equitable agendas at the earliest opportunity. If we’re lucky enough to live in a democracy, unlike the population in Egypt or Qatar, let’s not blow the chance to exercise our significant power to vote for change not just in our lives, but in the lives of those less privileged across the planet.
These two significant world events: exercises in mass communication, obfuscation and distraction under this Gemini Full Moon, can never again be allowed to unfold as they have this year. Billed as stages celebrating unity between nations in pursuit of the common goals of equality and fraternity, they will be remembered solely as emblems of the insanity and inequalities that continue to blight our planet. Let’s ensure they are consigned to history as the final relics of humanity’s inglorious, parasitical past: huge lumbering giants with tiny brains that consumed themselves into timely extinction on a toxic diet of blah blah blah.
There can be no effective climate policy without peace ... There are still many for whom climate change is just rhetoric or marketing ... but not real action ... They are the ones who start wars of aggression when the planet cannot afford a single gunshot because it needs global joint action.
(Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine)