Friday, June 01, 2007


Portents not Good for Survival

Deah me! It's hard not to feel depressed at times. Last night in the pub our trusty group of ageing Victor Meldrews found itself drawn down that road- so familiar to those of our age group- when bodily aches, ailments and anticipated future ones are turned over with a kind of horrified fascination-'Is this really going to happen to us?'- and the illnesses of friends and colleagues together with their hospitalizations and sometimes, sad demise, are ruefully commented upon.

Then I open up The Guardian this morning with my usual pleasure to find that Bush seems to have accepted the need to fight global warming(good) but cunningly proposes to do so in a way which will divert the rest of the world from its efforts hitherto(most definitely not good). Then I turn to the comment pages and find a well argued, painfully honest, but hugely depressing piece by Peter Wilby(pictured). In it he argues that whilst we, humanity that is, survived the Cold War's nuclear threat, this was managed by winning agreement within a relatively small group of leaders who agreed to put fail safe procedures in place. With global warming, however, it's all of us who need to be install the appropriate procedures. But we seem incapable of taking it seriously:

Like children, we prefer £1 today to £2 tomorrow; and, even more, we prefer it to £5 we won't be around to collect a century hence.

Everyone seems intent on talking gloomily and doing bugger all to address the problem, consuming up to the hilt or close to it the while. Some, like Bush, put their faith in technology. Will it save us?

But [this] is the biggest illusion of all. Science and technology haven't delivered on half the promises of the past 50 years. We don't have a cure for cancer. We don't have robots to do the cleaning. We can't take holidays on the moon. And we still haven't found a way to harness high-temperature superconductivity which, we were told 20 years ago, would cut energy waste by half.

Wilby concludes that, like 'everyone else', he's going to live his life as well as he can and that his single carbon footprint won't make a damn bit of difference. His article has the authority of someone who has spotted what is going on in the minds of all of us who recognize the problem but feel we really can't do anything worthwhile to mitigate its dangers. And yet people like us are those most likely to do something- many people I meet still shrug it off as if it's all a bit of a joke and not their problem at all. I refuse to accept the inevitability of the planet's demise in a few generations and hope to keep plugging on believing we can pull through. Especially on a beautiful day like today; however, that it's becoming more and more difficult is undeniable.

You should take the long term view Skip - 'in the long term we're all dead'.

Take up geology and start to think in millions of years. The planet is in no danger - it has survived climate change, meteorite strikes and all sorts but still it spins on. Maybe our species is at some peril although even the most pessimistic predictions about the results of climate change suggest that at least 1 in 10 of us would survive.

One day the sun will engulf the earth (about the time that Labour wins an historic 6 billionth term perhaps) but that's a long way off.

Remember - extinction is a vital component of evolution, if the dinosaurs and their chums hadn't been extinguished we wouldn't have evolved.

This isn't an excuse to do nothing but it does provide a reason to be a little less gloomy. At least since it could write, mankind seems always to have had a need to fret about a cataclysm just around the corner and whichever one has been in fashion has always seemed a tad more convincing than all the previous ones that came to naught.

We’re all doomed so always look on the bright side...
Thanks Hughesey, that's a good way of looking at it.
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