The Innocent Bystander

snownycPeople love discussing the weather. It’s the topic we reach for when there is an awkward gap in the conversation or when we are making smalltalk with someone we hardly know. The recent abundance of big weather stories in all parts of the world, from floods in Yorkshire and NSW to blizzards in New York, has kept weather reporters, newsreaders and small-talkers busy this summer. It continues to amaze me though that these events are almost always reported as random bad luck, with a persistent reluctance to suggest that we are in any way responsible.  My frustration is better articulated with the following poem:


Keep absolutely quiet, don’t mention a word

Let’s ignore the issue or dismiss it as absurd.

Concentrate your efforts on completely abolishing

Any thoughts you may have of publicly acknowledging

That the unprecedented extreme weather events,

Increasing in frequency and becoming more intense,

May actually be caused by the actions of humans

And not just the sun’s naturally varying lumens.


You’re right to worry what others may think

If you voice your concern over the obvious link

Between the gases we pump into the atmosphere

And the glaciers shrinking a little more each year.

If you mention it during dinner-party conversation

You can be sure that will be your final invitation.

Stick to discussing politics or praising the food

So your hosts don’t label you as boring, weird or rude.


Once we accept it is caused by us

Our conscience is faced with a social injustice

Even those who are bothered and very much care

Exist in a system that’s truly unfair

In which unlimited consumption by those who can afford

Is considered their entitlement, a just reward.

While those in the developing world are again left to suffer

Climate change and pollution making their lives ever tougher.

But the task is too daunting and can’t be tackled alone

So we opt to ignore it rather than pointlessly moan.


Even an acceptance of climate science

Doesn’t automatically end the deafening silence

It’s too easy to deny, justify, rationalise

That there are benefits to be had as temperatures rise.

Greenland will be lush and not covered in ice

An earlier spring may be actually quite nice.

Yes, it is true there are those who will certainly gain

But far greater is the number who’ll experience just pain.

Millions will be tormented by droughts or forest fire,

Small islands will disappear as seas levels rise higher.


Dealing effectively with climate change

Requires us to plan in the very long range

Acting not for ourselves but future generations

Making sacrifices for the sake of faraway nations.

So, rather than jeopardise our comfortable lifestyle

Let’s stick to the policy of climate change denial.



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