Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A Natural Mystic

And it’s almost over for another year.

Christmas seemed to return in 10 months this year rather than the customary twelve.  I love the family gathering and doing all the things that I don’t do at any other time of the year: eating mince pies and drinking mulled wine; playing board games, pulling crackers and wearing silly hats (all except for the teenager).

But for many households this Christmas was a washout. Flooding came once more to the South-West and North of England, Wales and Scotland.  Several homes and businesses were inundated for the second time in three years, with families evacuated three days before Christmas.  Some businesses watched their merchandise float down the isles, as Mother Nature flushed the festive season down the drain.

Although in the UK 2012 began with a drought and a ban on hose-pipes, it turned out to be the 2nd wettest year on record. At any given time during the last week there was anything between 100-200 severe flood warnings, indicating danger to life. 

In the Southern states of America tornadoes on Christmas day brought death.  The severe weather system spread from Texas to Michigan.

Meteorologists tell us to expect more of these extreme weather patterns. In the meantime, the issues around climate change has slipped way down the political agenda.

Okay, but just a few questions: how much notice will I receive before the Thames Barrier, which protects much of London from a storm surge, is overwhelmed?  A week, a day, an hour, some minutes…? How well would London survive a Sandy?  Given experience to date, it seems that we need to up-scale infrastructure, and take steps to provide adequate ‘defend and protect’ measures for the areas of the country most vulnerable to the vicissitudes of a changing climate.

The UK Government’s climate change programme was first launched in 2000. It aimed to cut green house gases/carbon missions by a certain percent by 2012 (if that ever happened). It’s all very well to produce policy statements about intentions but what impact has it had on the ordinary citizen here, now, today, at the end of 2012.

ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT ABOUT STOPPING THE PLANET FROM WARMING IN THE SHORT TO MEDIUM TERM; IT IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES NOW, NEXT MONTH, NEXT YEAR, WHILE MAKING CHANGES IN LIFESTYLE OVER THE LONG HAUL.

The 1968 moon landing generated amazing satellite images of the earth and revealed a planet of great beauty crowned with millions of kilometres of gleaming ice, with verdant continents and shimmering oceans. Today, just 44 years later, the picture is quite different.

Of course Government cannot by itself tackle climate change, it needs private sector input, which is in large measure responsible for global warming.  And what about the individual in society?  Ghandi said ‘you must be the change you want to see in the world'. But what does that mean for the individual in terms of a response to climate change?  It can mean whatever you chose it to mean. 

For me it means being informed and aware; being conscious about the amount of energy I am consuming (particularly food) at any given moment and for what purpose; linking with like-minded people; lobbying my member of parliament; never taking a doom-laden position on climate change, just being alert and conscious; generally making noise and being an ardent advocate on behalf of Mother Nature, my primary parent and carer.

Martin Luther King and Bob Marley were (and Mikhail Gobachev, a previous leader of the former Soviet Union, is) significant among the many people of our contemporary world influenced by the prophet archetype. Marley’s prophet expressed itself through the lyrics of his songs. Over a quarter of a century ago Bob told of a Natural Mystic blowing through the air:

            This could be the first trumpet, might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will die – don’t ask me why
Things are not the way they use to be
I won’t tell no lie;
One and all have to face reality now…

Of course death is never the end just another beginning – it all depends on one’s perspective on and perception of death. Unfortunately for those of us who fear death, this is of little consolation.

Contrary to all outward indicators and opinion, it is not within our gift to destroy the planet, but we can impact the amount and quality of space that is available to sustain human life; particularly the quality of life to which many, especially Western nations, have become accustomed.

Life creates the conditions that are conducive to life, and while we are currently ‘living in interesting times’, nevertheless it is an extraordinary moment to be alive.

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