By: Ilir Gaši
The fact that throughout the whole day the crew had been receiving alarming reports over the radio of massive icebergs that were floating significantly south of the line, common for that time of year, was of little help. At 23:40 on the 14th of April 1912, the passenger liner “Titanic”, the largest ever built, crashed into one of them, with all of its force of 30,000 horsepower and 50,000 tons of steel. In just a few seconds, the razor-sharp edge of the iceberg slashed a gaping hole in the hull to a length of almost a hundred metres, sealing the fate of the ship that was called “The Unsinkable”.
Until then, mainly concerned with socialising and dancing with which they were shortening the long days and nights of travel, the third-class passengers – mostly poor European immigrants seeking a better life in America – felt a strong earthquake. While news of the crash spread like wildfire, they noticed with horror that the water started rushing into the cabins and in panic they started to break through to the upper deck and lifeboats.
And now – with the intervention of imagination – picture if you may that at that precise moment, through the door leading to the deck, the face of the captain emerges: “Do not worry, we’re not in danger! There was no crash, this is just FAKE NEWS”, he says. And all the while, unnoticed, he hermetically locks the door from the outside, leaving the reassured third-class passengers to return to dance and slowly sink with the ship that will soon become their common grave. Unthinkable?
An alarming report presented by the International Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations (IPCC) in October last year, suggests that even if mankind manages to limit the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, the effects on the natural world on Earth will be very, very serious. If mankind fails, it will be literally catastrophic. Already an average increase of two degrees – that is, only half a degree over a set threshold, and only a step up from the current situation – means that the number of people vulnerable to extreme heat waves will increase to almost 40 percent of the world population, while an additional 400 million will be exposed to horrific drought.
And do you know what else? The rule of law, democracy, human rights – achievements that bring us even a very thin hope of a more just world – may not survive. “Climate Apartheid”, as the title of this article suggests, “will split the world into the rich and the dead.”
This is merely FAKE NEWS!, according to the elected president of the richest country in the world, Donald Trump, quoting activist Patrick Moore, known for his denial of global warming: “Not only False news, but also False science!”. Trump otherwise accuses China of being behind the fraud of global “climate change” whose only goal is to jeopardize U.S. industry. In complete accordance with this extremely patriotic vision of the situation, on June 1, 2017, the US president announced the pull-out of the U.S. from the so-called Paris agreement, long and painstakingly negotiated international arrangements that obliged the 188 nations party to it to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming. Although – according to the latest IPCC report – insufficiently ambitious in terms of the pace of reduction, The Paris Agreement remains the best chance we have at this time. Or at least it was – before Trump’s decision.
But to move a little to the south: You may have heard of recently published research outlining that the planting of one trillion trees could be the most effective and cheapest way to combat climate catastrophe? This is also just FAKE NEWS! – the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, will tell you. For after a few short months in office, he introduced measures that have enabled the literally unprecedented felling of trees in the Amazon, mainly to facilitate the development of the mining industry and large agribusinesses. Figuratively speaking, every minute in Brazil, a forest area of two football fields disappears! Faced with satellite images that clearly show the severity of this disaster, Bolsonaro snapped: This is a lie! His Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, however, knows where to place the blame: “global warming is a Marxist conspiracy!” he said.
And how are things in Europe? In order to adhere to a 1.5 degree rise in global average temperatures, changes to energy production, transportation and other systems “unprecedented in history,” are required, according to the IPCC report. This is also just FAKE NEWS! – perhaps this is why Boris Johnson, as of now the leader of the British Conservatives and Prime Minister of Great Britain, who a few years ago expressed the belief that we are expecting a mini-ice age, and that the whole story about climate change is “without foundation”, has almost always voted against measures to prevent climate change in parliament.
One of the guiding principles of the theory of democratic elections is that citizens, with all necessary information on those events and issues that affect them, make reasonable decisions about their future, the future of their community, their country and the world in which they live. In the immediate sense, these are decisions related to those who represent us and lead us, in parliament and in government, or as heads of state. However, it seems as if we have never been further away from this ideal at precisely the time we most need this ideal to be a reality.
Because disinformation has long outgrown the framework of toxic informative content, shyly expressed within obscure internet forums of conspiracy theorists and the extreme right. In fact, it has become an integral part of the political mainstream, with a growing number of powerful world leaders confidently stating disinformation in debates, while routinely rejecting solid counter-arguments and often very tangible and indisputable evidence that they are simply lying.
So just like those poor passengers in the “Titanic”, we are sitting in a dark hallway in the third class section of the ship, feeling the vessel listing to one side and wondering: who can win the battle against disinformation and the struggle for mankind’s survival, if it is not already too late? The rich and powerful up on the decks above us, significantly closer to the lifeboats, who will keep telling us that everything is all fine – or ourselves?
Or would you rather have just one more dance?
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