S-Town vs S-World: Hot Air and the Climate Change Problem (No Spoilers)

by , under Climate, Environment

Note: no spoilers

Being something of a fan of the This American Life and Serial podcasts, I caught word that S-Town was coming out last week, and found myself pretty much binging the 7 episodes on my walks to and from work. Expecting something much more Serialesque, at one point I began to wonder when the hell the gold was going to be found, or when another body might turn up. But this is a show that is stranger than that. Stranger, and better.

This story of ‘a man who made an insurmountable challenge out of living’ – a phrase that will live with me for a long time – is an extraordinary maze of riches to mull over. And one of the things I’ve been mulling is John B McLemore’s obsession with climate change.

Here is a guy – and this gives nothing away – who obsessively quotes climate data, and paints a doom-and-gloom scenario for the future of the planet. He rails against oil companies and the damage that is being done, and yet we hear regularly about the gas-guzzling Ford truck that he drives.

Much later, another character remembers an argument he had with McLemore, telling him he was pretty fed-up with this constant research and quoting of climate data, and saying:

I’ve switched my light bulbs to energy-saving ones. I’m doing my bit. What more can someone do?

Listening to this last week coincided with the news that Trump is rolling back all the legislative work that Obama had put in place to aim at a lower-carbon economy, and it made me wonder how screwed the climate debate is in the US. If a man who is obsessive about it – and wealthy – can’t change his truck, if changing light bulbs is the full extent of action that people consider they need to take, we really are in more trouble than I thought.

In short: S-World.


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  1. Robin

    With Trump and his gang embarking on a climate geoenginearing programme ; to ‘fix’ the climate, we really will be in a ‘S’ messed up world ?