Even the Walrus knows that Climate Change is real.

23 07 2010

A Day At The Beach

Inspiration for environmental concerns can come from the most unlikely of sources.

For example,  “The time has come,” the Walrus said “To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
And cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.”

Ever since I watched the latest adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, my mind has been thinking of The Walrus and the Carpenter. Neither of them appears in Tim Burton’s gothic Alice, but when the above words were transcribed in 1872, the developed world was in the iron grip of the Industrial Revolution.

Factories belched smoke into the air, heavy machinery toiled night and day to produce consumer goods, industrial waste spilled into the rivers and oceans and urbanization sprawled across the land.

Sound familiar? With the exception of the date – and the fact that heavy machinery has been “streamlined” to ensure that it produces more useless rubbish that we don’t need – this could be the environment that we live in now.

And, yes, the time has come to talk of many things. That is the problem.

We talk about the problems that face our world, we consider the solutions, then we talk some more, re-consider the solutions, decide that they are not practical or that they will be unpopular and then we sit down to talk some more.

Green issues have been on the agenda for decades. The problems that we are facing and the issues of sustainability are not a new craze dreamt up by some whiz kid in an advertising agency. The desire to save the planet, to reduce the destructive CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere, the call to governments to take action to protect the environment, the protests on the streets.

Not new, not something that we have only just realized.

US President Lyndon Johnson signed the Clean Air Act in 1963. At the height of the Cold War, a piece of legislation was put in place to try to control the amount of air pollution that the USA was contributing to. Over the next few years additional legislation began to appear: The Endangered Species Act, the Clean Drinking Water Bill, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency to name but a few.

Numerous global conferences which are attended by the leaders of every country in the world (who sit in nice conference centers and talk about global warming, climate change, sustainability and “green issues”) who, when the conference is over, are happy to appear in front of the media and assure the electorate that “they are concerned about the future of the planet and that the time has come to start taking affirmative action” – then they get into their taxpayer funded transport and either drive or fly home, ensuring that at least their carbon footprint is maintained for another week.

This is not a call to arms; this is not even a rant about how ineffective most governments are.

On 26th June, 2009, the American Clean Energy and Security Act was passed by the House of Representatives and made its way to the Senate. Otherwise known as the Waxmen-Markey Climate Change Bill, it promised “To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.” On July 7th, 2009 (which is ironically my birthday), it was read for a second time in the Senate.

And that is the last action that has happened. Over a year of inactivity. Twelve months of nothing. Meanwhile, the world keeps turning, global warming and climate change are considered by some naysayers to be nothing more than hysterical over-reaction by scientists, eco-worriers and tree-huggers whilst in the Gulf of Mexico, a company that has an appalling safety record in the field of oil exploration manages to be granted dispensation to drill deeper than is considered less than 100% safe.

No surprises that when the inevitable accident occurred, the politicians were quick to jump on the environmental bandwagon and blame BP for the oil spill. Whilst conveniently forgetting the generous contributions that oil companies have made to their career.

At the time of writing, the oil spill seems to be under control but the Climate Change bill that has been gathering dust in the US Senate seems to be dead in the muddied waters of government indecision. Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate has admitted that the Democrats don’t have enough votes to push a bill through.

You are not reading this wrong. The party that has a MAJORITY in the Senate can’t get legislation passed that would at least show a commitment to trying to reduce carbon emissions – bearing in mind that the USA is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse emissions.

I would call this pitiful, but after watching how the Senate works over the last year I am not surprised. Important legislation that could be slightly controversial takes an age to get debated and then almost certainly is derailed by elected representatives who have one eye on where their funding comes from and not what is actually good for the country.

And if something does manage to get passed, it is so diluted to be almost worthless.

Again, this is not a call to arms. But let us consider the wise words of the Walrus.

We have far too many cabbages involved in green issues, and not enough kings. Consumerism has given us more shoes than we could possibly ever need, ships still cross oceans that will bear the brunt of any environmental catastrophe and nobody has really used sealing wax since the Industrial Revolution.

The sea may not be boiling hot, but the planet is heating up quicker than last night’s Chinese takeaway and although I haven’t seen any pigs with wings, who knows what the chemicals that have poured into the water have produced.

The time has come to stop talking and start doing.




2 responses

23 09 2010
kim and kurt from mastodon

David~love this article! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it,looking forward to reading more! Did you love the show?

7 10 2010

Sorry for delay in responding, have been busy trying to find paid employment! Loved the show, thought the ‘Don were excellent and it was a shame that more people didn’t realise that 7PM wasn’t the time that the doors were opening!

My mate left in the middle of the Deftones as he was only there to see Mastodon and I forgot how often I am disappointed by Deftones live (won’t bother with them next time) but AIC were excellent and in all it was a good night.

Keep in touch, there will be more “Green” stuff in the future and if you’re coming up to Boston again feel free to give me a shout.


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