Friday, March 21, 2008

Global Warming: Don't Panic Mr Mainwaring !

Reading the Observer's article last week entitled Glaciers melt 'at fastest rate in past 5,000 years' sent me scurrying to re-read my copy of How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take To Change a Christian? - a Pocket Guide to Shrinking Your ecological Footprint and re-check my carbon footprint on the Act on CO2 calculator.

There was an interview in the Guardian with James Lovelock on March 1st which was also extremely depressing. When asked for his advice on what to personally do about global warming, Lovelock replied:

Enjoy life while you can. Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.

The Observer Glacier article was also very disturbing but at least had an encouraging concluding note, quoting Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

It's not a reason to sit back and say "it's all too late"

My thinking on this was also galvanised by a visit to the British Museum recently. They very sensibly had a lady curator on hand showing children five artefacts from different ages. The children were allowed to handle them (although I noticed that the lady put her hands underneath the childrens' hands when they held a small Egyptian pot, which must have been particularly fragile). It's funny, but those five artefacts were more enlightening that millions of pounds worth of audio visual displays.

The lady kindly told us how old each one was. 50 AD, 200 BC etc. We gasped when she told us a piece of pottery was four thousand years old.

But I almost collapsed when she told us that a Birtish flint fashioned into a cutting edge was 350 thousand years old. Shurely shome mishtake ?!

So, homo sapiens have been around for 350,000 years, fashioning tools to catch animals and eat them. But we have virtually trashed the planet in about 50 years. A blinking of the eyelid.

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