Just before Ebenezer Scrooge is left by the jovial Ghost of Christmas Present, he notices that the spirit had something hidden in the skirts of his festive robe. Perhaps unwisely he asks what it is and the ghost moves his robe to reveal two child-like but nonetheless fiendish figures. He names the girl as ‘Want’ and the boy ‘Ignorance’.
‘Are they yours?’ says Scrooge but the ghost replies ‘They are man’s!’
‘A Christmas Carole’ is Charles Dicken’s fantasy morality tale and Scrooge is given a chance to redeem himself. He becomes a better man and Tiny Tim, the crippled son of his long suffering clerk, Bob Crachit, is also given a reprieve. He will live, thanks to the new generosity of the reformed miser.
'Man', as Dicken’s called us (or humankind as we might prefer now), is at a cross roads. We can let Ignorance and Want continue to guide us (and perhaps ‘Greed’ would be a better modern word for Want), or we can wake-up to the seriousness and stupidity of our current situation and act. The time-line is brief. In fact, the wake-up and the action need to come this very next week and
As the media goes into frenzy over this crucial meeting of the world’s nations, there will be many confusing and conflicting reports of both the issue and the meeting. As I write, the news in the
To be frank I much prefer this argument too. It makes me feel a lot happier. It let’s me hope that all I hold dear, my family and friends, the whales, the dolphins, and much more besides, is going to be fine.
Sadly it is not true. And this story of misuse of evidence may even obscure what will happen in Copehagen.
I have followed the climate change issue for many years. I first wrote about the threat of climate change to cetaceans when we were still dealing in broad theories. However, I felt then that the risk for them (and us) then was too great to continue in our 'kamikaze mission’ to over-exploit the world’s resources, irrationally expand our populations, and pump climate-changing gases into the atmosphere. But I also thought at that time (some twenty years ago) that this was a slow process. I thought it was going to be more a threat to future generations. The news, however, is that things are happening fast; more than swiftly enough to threaten the current human generations as well as those yet to come.
I have no doubt that climate is changing. No doubt that we are to blame and no doubt that this is the most serious threat to all living things. Not everything is perfectly worked out yet, no one is saying this (although predictive powers are improving) and please don’t be confused with descriptions of previous periods of global warming and cooling. That’s all true, but what we are now facing is unprecedented. (This is rather like the argument that species have always gone extinct in the past and it is a perfectly natural process; also true but again the current rate of extinctions is outside any natural range and it too is human-driven.)
Dickens was a kind man. He gave the eponymous miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, a second chance and, in this fine fiction, the old man understood and acted. We are in that same position but this is no fiction. Some suggest we need to stabilize climate gases by 2015 – only five years away - and this will clearly require a major re-think in the way that we all live. The emissions of climate changing gases have to be reduced not just by a few percent, they have to be radically curtailed and this is going to cause real pain in the developed nations.
The signs for the Copehagen meeting are not good. It seems unlikely that the major polluters will agree to something that significantly handicaps their economies. However the
WDCS will not be at the meeting in
Mark Simmonds, WDCS International Director of Science