Posts Tagged ‘Steve Jones’
“The whole world has finally gone stark raving mad” muttered Bob as we cleaned out the mad – as in angry – chickens this morning. Albert, back from his Bank Holiday in soaking Blackpool, inevitably agreed and pronounced it doomed in his best Private Fraser voice. But later, having read what they had read, I found myself joining the chorus.
Steve Jones is a highly respected scientist who some time ago warned that life on our planet had but 150 years to survive given the rate of environmental damage being inflicted by its every growing number of human inhabitants. Yesterday he revised his forecast. He now firmly believes that all life will have been ‘blown away’ within 50 years.
Perhaps, like me, you have tended to dismiss talk of eventual obliteration in a thousand years, it seems too far ahead to worry about. Even Jones’s 150 years sounded incredibly remote. But 50 years? Ye Gods, that is within the lifetime of our grandchildren!
When A S Byatt, the Booker-winning author, spoke at the Edinburgh international book festival last week she referred to the Jones warning and she believes it. She was speaking at the launch of her new book, a retelling of the Norse Ragnarok myth, in which, after a succession of natural disasters, the world ends. She admitted that the story was impelled by a profound sense of gloom about the environment and indeed about all human endeavours. We are, she said, like those stupid Norse gods and “we are destroying the world”.
She went on to talk about her despair at what we are doing despite the terrible predictions of people like Steve Jones. She said that her greatest nightmare was the fact that we have created in the Pacific “an area of plastic as big as Texas, just stuff, dread, semi-translucent, in the middle of the ocean; and no one knows what to do”. She is, she added, extremely pessimistic about politics and the ecology.
I guess we have a choice here. We can either dismiss the scientific evidence or we can begin to panic and, just maybe, act. This is the age of risk-assessment and the new-age experts tell us to plan for the greatest possible risk. That has to be the Steve Jones prediction but what are we actually doing? In a word, nothing.
I find the whole thing really surreal. If you look around in this country what do you see? People worrying about the football transfer deadline, people excitedly discussing the whereabouts of Gaddafi, people fighting for Olympic tickets, politician lying about nearly everything. The latest subject for the worry-beads is the plan to build over most of the green belt. If Jones’s prediction is right those houses will have a limited life!
In other countries the situation is similar, in fact in the gas-guzzling United States many leading lights are dismissing all scientific evidence. Carry on emitting and fear not they say. In the developing economies they see nations like the USA and the UK carrying on regardless and shrug their shoulders. No one believes enough in the danger and no one does anything of significance. If they did world leaders could presuambly at least ban plastic bags instead of leaving the fate of humanity to the management of Tesco et al.
Being an ostrich by nature I, having typed this, will bury my head and choose to believe that my grandchildren’s grandchildren will inherit a world still full of all its wonders and joys. What else can I, or you, do?
Eat drink and be merry. Given the scientific predictions we might as well ignore the latest warnings about half the population being obese in thirty years time. If Jones is right they will still live the longest life available.
Surely the very least the world leaders should do is accelerate meaningful action. In many ways it is of course good that so many nations are now turning to democracy. But in this matter it is an added curse for democracies seldom do anything unless they are convinced of imminent danger as was the case in World War 2. And even that required a uniquely inspiring and forceful leader.
Sorry to disturb your day. I’m going to forget the whole thing for any other course leads to madness!