Towards the end of October there was a titanic football clash, not between international teams ahead of the World Cup, but on my lawn : a contest between my one-year old Scottie Dog (= Scout) and yours truly. Scout has an ability to block my superb passing shots, so more and more effect had to be exerted to achieve dominance. I was determined to get my my own way and so kicked the ball as hard as I could, trying distraction techniques at the same time. Next moment I was horizontal in the air and crashed to the ground. An unmitigated canine foul.

I found I couldn’t move and eventually was carted off to hospital where an X-ray revealed I had broken the head of my femur within my hipbone. (On the World Cup final match I saw the Argentinian Messi taking an exact same fall – not involving a Scottie dog but some rude Frenchman – and he got up with nary a scratch).

Eventually I was moved to a 7-bed ward (originally 6 bed ward, but you know how things are in the NHS now) of over-70 years old men, all of us apparently waiting for beds to be made available in small local hospitals where our recovery could be aided by more concentrated physiotherapist care. So we were bed-blockers of the first cru. Some of the inhabitants had been waiting months, with no prospect of release. I joined the clan of the damned. I therefore determined to exercise my mind by discovering the degree to which climate change had infiltrated that tiny bit of the NHS. I asked my companions what they knew about climate change, and apart from from some vituperous comments expressed without thought, they had nothing to contribute. Of the 15 non-dementia patients who occupied the ward while I was there, all but two were loud-mouthed misogynists shouting their displeasure at young nurses and nurse assistants trying to do their best for their patients.

This second grouping ranged from senior nurses to the most junior of nurse assistants. They didn’t want to discuss climate change either (other than my history teaching at the university). To be honest, I don’t think they had much time to discuss anything other than what they were doing. At times they were literally worked off their feet or having to concentrate so hard on what they were doing. “She who must be listened to” on one visit commented that I was experiencing the best and the worst of humanity in that ward.

Doctors always appeared in pairs or clusters, festooned with stethoscopes (never seen in action). I never got a chance to ask them about climate change but I knew they knew the answers. They had time to speculate.

So during my stay I found no one to make any comment about any aspect of climate change – people were either completely uninterested or much too busy. Were my observations typical of the wider NHS within the hospital? Well, from our ward we could hear the residents of about five other nearby wards (female, younger patients) and there was much resemblance. When being transported for tests in other parts of the hospital it was possible to observe other patients (commonly protesting) or motivated nursing staff. So perhaps my limited exposure was not that atypical.

Since returning home I have thought about these matters more widely. Perhaps many people don’t speak up or even think about climate change and other issues simply because there is little room in their lives for issues that have no immediate impact upon them. They don’t deny its existence but today for them it has little relevance. Essentially they are ignoring it. If this is true, then it is amazing. The amount of information and messaging aimed at them sweeps over them without impact. For those pushing action on climate change this potentially huge grouping of people is considered broadly supportive, but that might not be correct.

My Scottie has learned nothing. Despite my still requiring a metal frame to get around, Scout still brings her battered football for me to get past her formidable defensive skills. I’ll probably wait for the cricket season.

9 Comments

  1. Alan,

    Welcome back, and here’s wishing you a speedy recovery now that you are out of hospital and back at home.

    Like

  2. I suspect most people don’t give a flying fig about climate change, but as the new religion, it’s like attending church in the middle ages – you have to be seen to be supportive, or you’ll be in trouble.

    I still hope that the mass apathy that I suspect prevails regarding this subject might yet turn to hostility as it dawns on the public what the zealots have in store for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Alan

    On the subject of general interest in Climate Change in UK, Google Trends can be illuminating:

    (20th April 2022, that spike, was apparently “Earth Day”)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alan, it is great to have you back. Good luck with the recovery.

    Humanity is doomed of course, but not from climate change.

    As to the misogynists in the ward – wheel them outside and leave them in the rain until they promise to behave.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “‘If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’: why we need new stories on climate
    So much is happening, both wonderful and terrible – and it matters how we tell it. We can’t erase the bad news, but to ignore the good is the route to indifference or despair”

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2023/jan/12/rebecca-solnit-climate-crisis-popular-imagination-why-we-need-new-stories

    Worth a read. I find this entire mindset to be more than a little worrying.

    …A lot of people don’t know that we’ve largely won the battle to make people aware and concerned. The LA Times ran a well-intentioned editorial last year about how most Americans don’t care about climate breakdown. That was true once, but no longer is. A Pew Research poll in 2020 concluded that two-thirds of Americans wanted to see more government action on climate, but last summer the scientific journal Nature published a study concluding that most Americans believe that only a minority (37-43%) support climate action, when in reality a large majority (66-80%) does. That gap between perceived and actual support undermines motivation and confidence. We need better stories – and sometimes better means more up to date….

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  6. It is perhaps worth while saying that this article is much delayed. It was destroyed several times by an itinerant email. It was originally written in November and intended as a sort of Xmas card, funny at the beginning but with one serious point. I hope that, even though delayed, it conveys some pleasure.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Alan: You note that “Perhaps many people don’t speak up or even think about climate change and other issues simply because there is little room in their lives for issues that have no immediate impact upon them. They don’t deny its existence but today for them it has little relevance”.
    This is really true. Climate change is rather trivial for many people given other more pressing issues. Some may even joke about it.

    I was greatly amused by this passage from Series 3 of Happy Valley, the acclaimed TV program. The writer Sally Wainwright is said to accurately reflect the way people from northern England speak and think. This is an exchange between the main character, Catherine and her sister Clare.

    Clare: Yoga is dangerous?
    Catherine: Somebody came to do a session for us up at t’nick one dinner time. We were all farting like billy-o after the first few moves.
    Clare: That’s not dangerous.
    Catherine: Oh it is. We gave off enough methane to melt a polar ice cap. Greta Thunberg had to come and speak to us. We had a flood t’week after down Hebden. Do you remember? Well that was us lot cracking off up Halifax.
    Clare: Who knew?
    Catherine: Well it might give you inner peace but there’s whole coastal towns falling into the sea every time you squeeze yourself into t’lotus position. So don’t you talk about yoga and then go voting for the Green Party.

    Like

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