Trust in institutions- it’s gone up sh*ts creek!

The UK, well Scotland will be hosting the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) from 31st October to 12th November. The conference aims to address climate changes together with four distinct goals. They are:

  • Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
    • accelerate the phase-out of coal
    • curtail deforestation
    • speed up the switch to electric vehicles
    • encourage investment in renewables.
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  • Mobilise finance
  • Work together to deliver on promises to address the climate crisis we are in.
    • finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational)
    • accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.

From the UK standpoint, this week governmental regulations have been shown to contradict efforts needed to make a real impact on the environment and as such, continue to sow distrust in institutions. There is no consistency in messaging or action for that matter. Like a lot of people, I’ve been left disappointed and concerned as Brexit is shown yet again to have negative consequences to what I hold dear about the UK. I’m appalled that raw sewage has been dumped into British waters over 400,000 times, that our rivers and seas are unfit to swim in. This coupled with the tax cut for domestic flights truly highlights the disregard the current government has for any commitments as they constantly U-turn in the policy. But is this just the UK government that is eroding trust and sending mixed signals?

Looking at OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) data, I was surprised to find that the UK had a lower trust percentage in their government than Brazil or Columbia (2020 data). Why the surprise, especially since the UK is more segregated than ever? I still hold onto notions of quality, expected moral rigour and faith from long ago. This now seems like a fairytale as we watch manifesto promise after manifesto promise being compromised and reversed. Zac Goldsmith promised in 2019 that the standards we had grown to expect whilst part of the EU would at least be maintained if not increased, has shown the hypocrisy of the government yet again. Pollsters all agree that we are seeing the lowest trust in any government in history. With such little integrity shown in governments that lean toward populist positions, trust in institutions has shifted. Edelman run a yearly Trust Barometer and for 2021 have shown (what they call) information bankruptcy destroying two institutions we would have normally trusted- the government and the media. The spread of misinformation has had dire consequences, further segregating society and people, to the extent that the clear winner has been businesses.

Where covid forced people to trust their governments, the poor outcomes that have resulted in unimaginable deaths at such an unprecedented rate because of their slow or lack of timely reaction, has meant they lost the momentum created by a common cause. Some nations are clear winners in trust and hope. There are also clear losing nations that have encouraged separatists and continued to erode any goodwill or hope their people had. Covid-19 showed us that the climate crisis could be reversed, that we humans can change the trajectory of the worst effects of our planetary destruction. What the pandemic also showed was that this is impossible without the cooperation of large global businesses. The biggest contributors to all carbon emissions come from 20 fossil fuel companies. These twenty companies contribute to a third (33.3%) of all carbon emissions, which some argue are the cause of this environmental crisis.

With this information, it’s natural to ask how has trust in business increased and is currently higher than NGO’s, government or media? Of the 20 companies mentioned in the Guardian article, 12 are state-owned. They function as another branch of government, plus there has been the increased infiltration of lobbies that promote individual industry and have the finances to “bribe” legislators. People feel that democracy is under attack.

What is worse than democracy being under attack, is that the majority of people now feel overlooked. Those who had a voice before and who had hope and expectations that they could carve out a better life than their parents, acknowledge that the world has fundamentally changed, at least for western society. This change has been for the worst. There is now such a divide in life experiences and expectations between classes (especially in the UK from which I’m conjecturing) that finding a healthy common solution becomes ever more distant with each passing crisis. I use crisis because we are not given time to recalibrate from one shitstorm to another. I feel we have reached the point that this is by design as written in my sleep post. In overwhelming the majority, the minority claim more and more power which equates to more control. The press has always been about spreading their desired messages far and wide. Having access to information and a source of distribution is powerful. Technological advances have allowed more people than ever before to have a voice, to share their views, thoughts etc (eg this post you are reading). This has also caused the tsunami of disinformation, sowed mistrust and created a situation in which world leaders now behave like toddlers rather than responsible adults. Scientific rigour is dismissed in favour of personal comfort whilst on all levels, control and power over others has become the end goal. Power and control at any cost. It’s therefore natural to search for stability.

Where do you find stability? Within business. They have a clear goal which is to create profit. Successful businesses are competent and have shown over and over that they can work to their directive. In such unstable conditions that we find ourselves in 2021, stability is a godsend. Due to public pressure, information available and the power of communal effort, corporations need to show that now, more than ever they care. With the decrease in positivity from the lack of opportunities offered compared to past generations, new generations are looking to find their own space to thrive whilst promoting ethical practices.

Current generations may not be able to buy a house or have the stability of past generations, but they can make sure that they don’t damage the earth further. The world is global, what happens in one place affects others. Regardless of location, no man is an island and no nation can operate in a silo. Look at Brexit as proof of that. Society has evolved to mean we need jobs to live, but those jobs, through consensus, have changed the world. People look for companies that are making a positive impact to be part of.

Perhaps it’s the over education and under-resourcing, but with business, you at least know where you stand. You know their intentions and there are consequences to them f*cking up, unlike a lot of corrupt governments who make up regulations as they go.

Further reading:

4 thoughts on “Trust in institutions- it’s gone up sh*ts creek!

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  1. I completely agree with you, governments are really showing that in the end they only care about making money, and that as long as it keeps coming in, they only have to pay lip service to the idea that they actually want to help people, when in fact they don’t give a shit about people as long as they are still getting paid.
    This is actually one reason I’m glad that we are having so many striking workers, I mean yes it does suck that things have now become incredibly delayed, however if we are going to have any real change, the people in charge need to know how much they actually rely on the common worker, and that if they don’t have them, that businesses simply cannot function.

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  2. It’s interesting but you could have mentioned how people put their trust in scientific advances and also those that didn’t and went a bit crazy such as the anti vaxxers

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  3. Completely agree, the current government seen to think they should run the country like a business, where they are the big fat cat board members. We the people, who keep the wheels turning do not matter, the climate does not matter!!! Only profit matters

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