This title is transparently inspired by Emil Zola’s 1898 pamphlet J’accuse…!, in which that otherwise dreadful writer passionately attacked those who had framed Capt. Dreyfus for espionage.
That’s where the similarity ends, one hopes. First, my piece will be apologetic, rather than accusatory. Second, as a result of his effort Zola was convicted of libel and had to flee to England, a fate that I’m confident won’t befall me.
After all, since I’m already in England, escaping there would be physically impossible. Nor will an escape be necessary because, as someone who has sleepless nights worrying about our planet, I’m firmly on the side of the Extinction Rebellion angels.
That means no one will dare sue me no matter how often I call people fascists or murderers – and that’s when I’m in a good mood.
But before I offer my profuse apologies, I must point out that Greta Thunberg’s Christian name is an anagram of ‘great’, and no aptonym has ever been more appropriate.
Following in Boris Johnson’s footsteps, I’d like to thank anagrammatic, aptonymic ‘Great’ and the movement she inspired for pointing out our civilisation’s “mind-blowing carbon debt”.
And, taking my lead from Michael Gove, then Environment Secretary, I apologise on behalf of Western civilisation for bringing our planet to the verge of extinction, using the Industrial Revolution as a lame excuse.
Moving from the general to the particular, I want to mention some of the specific culprits that throughout history have been bringing our civilisation into disrepute and our planet close to extinction.
First on this list of shame is agriculture, and I mean all of it, not just animal husbandry.
That devouring the flesh of murdered livestock is both a moral disgrace and an ecological disaster is a truth more universally acknowledged than anything Jane Austin could concoct.
Alas, less opprobrium is levelled at cereal farming, which ignores its dastardly, millennia-long contribution to global warming.
In particular, I’d like to apologise for the villain who first came up with slash-and-burn agriculture, wherein large tracts of forest were burned to make the soil more fertile – this, with criminal disregard for either the raised temperature or the murdered trees.
If that was bad, the subsequent three-field system was even worse, for it rotated three fields to grow different crops in sequential seasons. Only one of the three fields lay fallow – rather than all three, which they would have been had ‘Great’ lived at the time. I’m sorry about that.
And I’m even sorrier about the scoundrel who at the same time invented the moldboard plough, that diabolic global warmer. You see, turning the soil releases heat into the atmosphere, which has been hurting our planet since God was young.
Apologies are also in order for Benjamin Holt, the criminal American fascist who in Zola’s time invented the tractor, exacerbating the problem no end. And as to those planet-killing degenerates who came up with chemical fertilisers, no apology will be abject enough.
Instead, with all humility and boundless respect, I’d like to draw ‘Great’s’ attention to the perils of the vegan diet.
While morally superior to barbaric carnivorism, it too pushes our planet to the precipice. To be on the safe side, we must stop eating not just meat but also bread and related foods. Only consuming naturally growing grasses, nuts and tree bark would obviate the need for apology.
Now we can smoothly segue from agriculture to the chemical industry, including its pharmaceutical offshoot. Here my mea culpas reach fervour pitch and I’m banging my head on the floor even as we speak.
In particular, I’d like to apologise for Hippocrates who first noticed the medicinal properties of willow bark, Charles Frédéric Gerhardt who synthesised that bark’s acetylsalicylic acid, and the firm Bayer that turned it into mass-produced aspirin.
Enough people have already apologised for another Bayer product, the Zyklon B gas that served the needs of Germany’s growth industry in the 1940s. Yet mine is the first apology for its seemingly innocuous aspirin, which might not have killed a few million people directly, but has still dealt a mortal blow to our planet.
As to Alexander Fleming with his evil penicillin, don’t let me get going on that mass murderer. The pathetic little benefit of antibiotics, saving a few carbon-producing lives, is outweighed by the egregious damage caused by manufacturing those satanic potions.
Have you seen smoke coming out of pharmaceutical factories? Then you know what they do to our planet, and I’m genuinely sorry. So say no to drugs (other than recreational ones) and explore the medicinal properties of naturally growing grasses, nuts and tree bark – and if you don’t, I’ll report you to ‘Great’.
The list could go on, each item accompanied by my head-banging apology. But you get the message: all science and technology over the ages has been hatched by a perfidious conspiracy devoted to destroying our planet.
It’s time we sat down and pondered the possible solutions (actually, sitting down is the only option here in London, what with ‘Great’s’ troops gridlocking the city centre).
The conspirators I mentioned camouflage their subversion with empty pronouncements about people living longer and better as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Rather than apologising for it, hiss those snakes, we must give thanks.
Those vermin don’t realise that they thereby betray their fiendish designs. For the problem is precisely the longer lifespans and therefore greater numbers of people befouling our planet.
Reverting to the pre-industrial, ideally pre-historic, conditions would rapidly depopulate, and thereby save, our planet. I just wish ‘Great’ and her friends had the courage to spell out this objective in so many words.
Perhaps they are planning to do so shortly. If that’s the case, I may have inadvertently stolen their thunder, for which I’m terribly sorry.