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Chris Slatter

My Blog








Mar
16

Time to Think

 Rune of the Day: Laguz, overreach

 

I was in my early twenties when I first became concerned about
my helplessness should I ever be confronted with the fall of civilisation.
Before you start to laugh, consider this: do you know how to design a sanitation system, weave cloth, tan hides, fire clay pots and generate electricity? Undoubtedly some of you will, most won’t.
 
So what do I care, you may ask yourself, civilisation won’t fall and I will never be called upon to make a haven for myself and my family. There will always be Walmart, BP service stations, the local mall and abundant electricity flowing day and night from those doohickeys on the wall. There will, won’t there?
 
That’s probably what the former residents of Japan’s northern Pacific coast thought before 11th March when a tsunami brought local civilisation to an abrupt halt. Many of the dispossessed, bewildered by the scale of the damage and trying to keep a grip on civilisation, are now camping outside the piles of rubble that were once their homes. Such is the devastation that even in the world’s most urbanised society, help cannot reach them, not for days at least.
 
Dreadful as the events of March 11th are, they are not unique in human history. Humankind has faced natural disasters many, many times before from devastating plagues, seismic eruptions, famines and tsunamis. Civilisation has always eventually recovered, even from the 14th Century's Black Death that killed as much as half of the world’s population. But could there be a natural disaster from which civilisation would not recover? A sizeable comet striking the Earth would do it for sure. So might rapid climate change.
 
It was James Lovelock, the indefatigable British scientist, who first gave us the concept that we were living on a natural organism. The Earth, according to his theory of Gaia, is a discrete organism that is self-regulating and to a certain extent, adaptable.
Ever wondered how the oxygen content of the atmosphere, fixed at around 21%, stays that way? Bear in mind that 1% higher and forest fires would burn out of control. The Earth does it.
 
But James Lovelock and all of the scientists that I have interviewed say that our manufacturing endeavours are starting to overcome Gaia’s ability to adapt and self-regulate. They also say that the mere presence of 7 billion of us and our animals breathing out carbon dioxide is sufficient to increase the proportion of atmospheric greenhouse gases to a size where climate change is inevitable. God knows what will happen in 2050 when there will be some 9 billion human beings and at least the same number of domesticated animals. Curbing industrial emissions won’t make any difference at all.
 
What will climate change look like? I don’t know and none of my science interviewees know either. James Lovelock commits himself, unusually for a scientist,
to the view that southern Europe will be a Saharan inferno, though he says the British Isles and Scandinavia will be largely spared. But broaden his vision and you start to see migrations on an unprecedented scale, inundations of nearly all the world’s major cities due to sea level rise, the collapse of infrastructure. In other words, no land, no food, no power and precious little hope. And most of us are woefully unequipped to deal with it.
 
 

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About Me

I have been an advertising copywriter, film director, teacher of screenwriting and a television producer. I have worked for some of the world's largest advertising agencies in Australia and the UK before attending the London Film School for two years.


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