People 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.