SUZANNE HARRINGTON: It’s so hot here that I’m too cool to go to France

Mary Robinson said that climate change is a man-made problem that needs a feminist solution, writes Suzanne Harrington.  

Too right. The world is literally on fire. As I crack open another fizzy pop in the deckchair, having cancelled the annual camping trip to the south of France, because the south of France is now in my back garden, I hear myself uttering my most bourgeois sentence ever: “I can’t be arsed with the south of France this year.”

Dear God. This is what climate change is doing. Turning me into the kind of person who says they can’t be arsed with the south of France. I would feel ashamed of myself, except I can’t be arsed with that, either. It’s too hot.

In fairness, as a feminist — which, to paraphrase Caitlin Moran, includes all humans who believe all humans to be equal — you can only agree with Mary Robinson. Of course we need a solution, and a feminist one would probably work better, because feminism is generally inclusive and co-operative, rather than a patriarchal solution, given how the patriarchy seems full of shouty, idiot climate-change deniers.

Meanwhile, the world burns. While my biggest dilemma is cleavage sweat and the local shop running out of ice, people further south are in trouble

Climate refugees are migrating up from the equator. Southern Europe is a tinderbox. Reading about it is overwhelming, as I luxuriate in the blissful heat. What to do?

On a whim, I get rid of my car. From now on, I will only ride my bicycle. This will be my infinitesimal contribution to saving the planet from the human virus devouring it; that and the reuseable coffee cup, refillable water bottle, and fridge full of vegan sausages and non-dairy Ben & Jerrys. I get a composter, a huge Dalek-type thing, which lurks in the garden reeking of rotting veg and swarming with flies. I have no idea what a composter is for or how to use it, it just seems like I should have one. Unlike an old diesel car.

The trouble is living, as I do, high up a long, steep hill. After a week of trying to cycle up it, my leg muscles are noodled, and the energy saved from the car is being used up by the washing machine, because of all the sweating. The eco laundry pellets are about as effective as those stupid crystal deoderants, but purple plastic laundry capsules, industrially scented with ylang ylang and prosecco, or whatever, seem a bit much. I am starting to drive myself mad.

Still, the upside of ditching the car — apart from the warm glow of smug — is no more traffic jams or parking hassle or tax and insurance or spare parts or fuel bills or breakdown cover. Grimly panting as I shove the bicycle up the hill, the warm glow of smug becomes red-faced gasping. I am, I realise, having a fully integrated Gaia moment: overheating and close to collapse, I am synchronised with the planet.


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