Friday, October 23, 2009

Copenhagen: The Archangel and the Vampire

There is a lot riding on the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen. So much so that many commentators are proclaiming it to be our last chance to stop the dominoes of climate change from tipping each over into catastrophe. Even ones such as Worldchanging's Alex Steffen were sounding ominous warnings recently

Entire orders of life may be eliminated in this sixth great extinction event. At the very least, civilisation could be snuffed like a candle left on some drowning pacific atoll.

Apocalyptic stuff!

For certain, the sooner we implement systematic counters to global warming the more damage we can avert. A great opportunity will have been missed if the Copenhagen talks can't agree to substantial action. Of course, a lot of the doom-mongering is just that: a ploy bringing pressure to bear on policy-makers to extract their collective digits by stating that failure is not acceptable.

However, the importance of Copenhagen can be overplayed.

We are about to embark on a journey like no other in the history of humanity. It will be a journey of many, many steps, of which Copenhagen will be only one of the first. We can't afford to stumble on one of them and yet it is nearly certain that we will. To persevere, we will need to learn endurance and be resilient to the calamities that will delay us.

A lot of people are ill-prepared for this journey. They are still in varying stages of denial, disbelief, and possibly despair. Is it helpful to say 'game over' each time we do stumble? This is not the outlook that resilience nurtures.

It prompted me to remember the lyrics to Peter Gabriel's song 'Don't Give Up' (which strike me as apt, even if they deal with more mundane issues like chronic unemployment in the eighties)
"no fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted"
A sombre tone, and the speaker is, indeed, close to suicide. However, there is a second voice providing support and encouragement. The conclusion, while gloomy, at least acknowedges the possibility of hope.
don't give up...
don't give up...
don't give up.
To emphasise the message, consider the alternative.

The vampire of my title features in the movie Nosferatu. Seeking his beloved, he has come to the city, trailing plague in his wake. As the disease spreads remorselessly, all hope and social order breaks down. The survivors carouse in drunken debauchery in the town square while they wait for death to claim them.

Well, they might die happy but it is a truly chilling spectacle, and hardly an alternative to anything!

Don't give up!



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