Morale on the allotments was lower than a snake’s belly this morning. Mud does that to you and we gravelled in a grudging way, knowing that we face a week of similar conditions. Anyone passing the gates might conclude at first sight that highly motivated codgers were defying the elements with a song in their hearts. But things are not always what they seem!
On the national stage that is being amply illustrated this morning. The left-wing papers are talking of Clegg’s fury and his intention to rebuild our ties with Europe. Their more numerous right-wing peers point out that Clegg initially supported Cameron’s veto, an act that paves the way to a better tomorrow. The odds are that both views are wide of the mark, certain it is that the chance of Clegg surviving to rebuild anything is akin to my opening for England in the forthcoming Test series against Pakistan.
But the greatest veneer of deception surely covers this morning’s headlines about the supposed breakthrough in Durban in the governmental talks about climate change. At first glance it sounds marvellous news, at last world leaders are going to actually do something about carbon emissions which every bit of evidence suggests are causing a potential Armegeddon to build up as the icecaps melt, the rain forests come down and the big polluters, America, China and India, continue to belch out more and more destructive emissions.
On the face of it the last minute agreement reached in Durban merits the ecstatic headlines. But it isn’t what it seems. The world’s leaders have merely agreed to write a comprehensive global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, covering developed and developing countries, to come into force in 2020. The next phase of negotiations covers “a protocol, a legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force”, so the amount of wriggle room left is considerable.
Even if a real deal emerges there will still be a long way to go for Durban didn’t so much as discuss how far and how fast countries must cut their emissions. Considering that emissions have risen 50% in the past 20 years and that with every further increase we have less and less chance of keeping global temperatures to within a further 2C, it is hard to confidently cast aside the latest warnings from scientists about climate change becoming “catastrophic and irreversible”.
Governments will now begin negotiations on what the new climate agreement should look like. We are told that the outcome must be wrapped up in 2015 with a legal document ready to be signed. Governments will then have 5 years in which to ratify it. Whether that will happen in the case of the “big three polluters” is open to doubt, given the possible effects on their economies. Right across the world powerful national and vested interests are involved and many refuse to believe the evidence, in the way that someone with a fear of dentistry ignores a decayed tooth right up the moment when it is too late to save it.
I apologise for being negative and sincerely hope that some good comes out of the Durban talks which at least have produced an intention to consider action. But it helps no one to pretend that suddenly the world’s leaders have come to their senses and, hey presto, the planet is saved.
Nothing so far has countered the scientific forecasts that a large part of the low-lying areas of the world will be under water within three or four decades. So I guess that the news that ‘Little Mix’ have won the X Factor isn’t that important in the great scheme of things.
There are of course many who advocate just waiting to see what happens but that sounds dangerous. It reminds me of the story of a London cabbie who was driving a Bishop and, as cabbies tend to do, launched into a tirade. He said that the ‘Bish’ would look mighty silly if, having denied himself the joy of sinning, found upon dying that there was nothing more. Ah, said the Bishop, but not half as silly as you will if you find that there is.
Some say never believe what you read in the newspapers. I say things are seldom what they seem. Same thing really!