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Chris Slatter

My Blog


Interesting Times.


It’s been a long time since I last blogged. During the interim Silvio Berlusconi has gone leaving Italy in a financial and cultural crisis that no one expects it to solve by itself. The British Prime Minister has isolated his nation from European Union fiscal policies to the resounding cheers of Conservative backbenchers and the deep misgivings of many others. Meanwhile, in Durban the Climate Change Conference has cobbled together an agreement at the 13th hour to continue negotiating an emissions reduction plan that will come into force at the end of the decade. Of course, environmentalists and scientists are saying that 2020 will be too late.
Those of you who visited Italy in the 1970’s and 1980’s will remember a smiling nation, not rich, but one which demonstrated its joy for life. Now, and for the past twenty or so years, the misery felt by Italians is apparent everywhere. It’s not just manifest in the subdued behaviour in the bars and markets, it is also expressed in the body language of women trying to live up to an impossible ideal. Berlusconi demeaned women not just in his outrageous public–private behaviour, but also in his media which showed impossibly glamorous girls performing titillating stunts on his television channels. Several of these girls were encouraged to enter politics, or at least the political arena, becoming in some cases ministers. The message to women was, if you want to get ahead you must be young and beautiful. To live up to this, many Italian women have submitted to cosmetic surgery. It is a common sight on the streets of Rome to see women in their 50’s and 60’s wearing skin tight jeans and tight tops, their lips artificially plumped by collagen their breasts seemingly rock solid and their heads adorned with long blonde or coal black wigs. To change these manifestations of deep unhappiness I believe will take a generation, possibly two.
Great Britain has never felt itself to be part of Europe. I said this for years before it joined the Common Market and I haven’t changed my mind even though I actually had a role in the original Britain in Europe referendum campaign to gain entry. That was a long time ago. Having lived and worked in Europe for some time, both in France and Italy, I can report that Europeans have lived in an integrated community far longer than the European Union has existed. They have zipped across borders to work and zipped home again in the evening with scarcely a thought. Europeans of necessity are in general multi-lingual. For the British, mainland Europe was only ever a place to spend their holidays and to a great extent it still is. The British as a nation speak English only, or schoolboy French as it is flatteringly known. They do not want to be Europeans, they want to be British with all that implies. I wasn’t surprised that David Cameron opted out of fiscal union with the EU. His veto was a proclamation of Britain’s undimmed greatness, let the French and Germans have their hegemony, he was saying, we British will go it alone. He may well have his wish sooner than we all think.
The Durban Climate Change Conference has been saved from a farcical ending by an agreement that, in essence, binds negotiators to continue negotiating to find an agreement. The time limit for any emission reduction protocols to be adopted has been pushed back to 2020. Surprised and disappointed? You shouldn’t be, it was virtually inevitable. The four big emitters - China, USA, India, Japan – are never going to agree to a limit on emissions because it would be a de facto limit to their development. No government could sell it and no nation would accept it. Not that a reduction in GHG isn’t urgent because it is. We will go sailing past 450 ppm of atmospheric greenhouse gases and consequently the maximum 2 degrees of global warming agreed to in Copenhagen in 2009 will be like a sign on the motorway, briefly glimpsed while travelling in the fast lane. These, incidentally, are not my words, but the words of an eminent scientist, a Nobel Laureate and expert on the technology known as carbon capture and storage, spoken to me last August. Another note of caution from another eminent scientist, this time the former government chief scientist Sir David King: he told a group of NGO advocates, scientists and government workers in Brussels that by 2012 global oil supplies will no longer match demand. In case you didn’t get that the first time, next year, the world will not have enough oil to fill its needs. Of course, it’s an estimate, but it made me sit up and gape when I heard it. If you have wondered why oil companies are pushing shale gas so emphatically, now you know. Is Peak Oil upon us? According to Sir David King, apparently so.
What are we to make of all these goings on? I have no idea, but I do feel that I have become the subject of that most quoted of Chinese curses and I am not comfortable with it at all.

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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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