The Duke of Burgundy was philosophical. All around him was gloom and doom. To the right, bankers fell on their swords. To the left, politicians procrastinated. The Eurozone was in a tailspin and heading for a defaulting Armageddon while the Greeks fiddled and the Germans tightened their wallets. A second recession in the UK reared its head and the economy was eased quantitatively. Printing money was such fun.
The public circled like headless chickens baying for blood. Bankers blood was best but politicians would do. The newspapers broke the law with glee and hacked their way into everything before printing trivial nonsense. The rich got richer, as always, and the poor went to soup kitchens. The Duke reflected that all this did not sound so good. He had been glum but then he remembered from the dim distant past something called ‘Climate Change’.
Once upon a time it was considered important, but then everyone forgot. Once upon a time we were urged to save energy, to drive less, to recycle, not to fly and to insulate. This was a couple of years ago and then the greenest of all governments forgot what green was. Politicians even forgot to fly all over the world to check just how bad climate change was. The green middle classes still recycle by driving to the recycling centre in their four wheel drive vehicles to drop in their wine bottles, but they have total amnesia about not flying to America or Australia or South Africa. Ask yourself - do you know anyone who does not fly except those who were always frightened of flying?
The government still wants to increase flying and still hasn’t put tax on aviation fuel. The government’s mantra is still ‘Growth, Growth and more Growth’. The Duke heard a lone logical voice. It was Caroline Lucas. She said: “Only madmen and economists think we can have exponential growth on a finite planet”.
So why was the Duke’s mood of gloom moderated? It occurred to him that the global economic crisis was the only thing that could have slowed the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions. There are no countries that will do it willingly and, anyway, the co-ordination of 190 countries seems to be beyond human kind. Maybe Gaia is a reality and has taken charge.
The global recession has slowed the race towards climate change but is it enough? Sadly it is not. The big players, China, USA, India are all focused on growth. The human population continues to rise and will be 9 billion by 2050. In the end, the population must stabilise before there will be a chance of controlling climate change.
The Duke realised all this and yet he still managed to look on the bright side. Why was this? Well he was able to reflect on the happy accident that he was born in Scotland and not the Maldives or Bangladesh. His spirits rose but not as fast as sea levels.



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