Suppose you have a very simple society consisting of just three citizens:
Mr Poor lives in a bedsit in Peckham and is very poor. He doesn’t cook, just lives on cereal, biscuits and Dorritos but very occasionally treats himself to a kebab. He gets around by bike or takes the bus. His carbon footprint is 3 tonnes CO2e per year.
You don’t often see badges or bumper stickers with slogans like that. The antinuclear ones are all over the place.
If future historians look back on this era perhaps they’ll conclude that a major factor influencing our failure to decarbonise rapidly enough was that the environmental movement put its resources into campaigning against the wrong power source. Though other future historians would say nah, don’t be silly. The greens were never that influential.
Here’s an equation, a nice simple little equation:
The equation was developed in the 1970s during the course of a debate between Barry Commoner, Paul R. Ehrlich and John Holdren.
This little equation has had a big effect over the years on environmentalists and how they think and talk about the problems we face and how we should be trying to tackle them.
In 2100 my son will be the same age my father is now. When my father was born the world was emitting just under a billion tonnes of carbon per year. When my son was born we were emitting almost 9 billion tonnes a year and global CO2 levels had increased by about 30%.
- How old is my son?
- How old is my father?
- What will the world be like in 2100?
Three Goldilocks planets discovered orbiting the same star. They’re all in the Goldilocks zone where water can exist in liquid form, which is supposedly necessary for life as we know it. Perhaps any kind of life. Almost certainly for any kind of advanced life, though who can be sure? So if advanced civilizations developed on one or more of those planets they would quite likely visited the other life-supporting planets in their system at an early stage of development, the stage we’re at know, and perhaps in learning about those other planets that were quite like their home planet they may have learned to look after their own planet better. Or if they did trash it, at least they’d have a Planet B to move to, and then a Planet C after that if they wanted to. Then maybe they’d be advanced enough to travel to other stars and they’d happen across us, this remote planet, like an Easter Island to their Europe, and they’d witness us doing to our planet just what they did to their Planet A. Would they intervene and stop us or would they sit back and watch us with great academic interest? Historical interest as to their historians it might be like watching their own history unfold in a parallel universe.
A strong gale warning (more than 20 m/s) is in effect for many parts, except in the east.
There’s a snow storm outside at the moment. I took a walk around the back gardens of the flats I’m staying in. There’s a semi-communal grassy area with benches, though this evening the grass has become covered in snow. It’s just gone midnight. The wind has become stronger. It was a struggle walking against it back to the back door of the flat.
Sitting in the Cafe de Paris yesterday drinking a coffee and old Lithuanian guy sat next to me and started talking to me, in Lithuanian at first. He asked me if I was writing a book on my laptop, and then started talking about rock music. He said he got lots of emails telling him the latest rock music news. I asked him what kind of rock music and he said the old stuff. I said like what and he said donovan. But then he mentioned Steppenwolf, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Nazareth. Nazareth were Scottish, he said. I looked up their website – www.nazarethdirect.co.uk – and found out they are indeed Scottish. I’d vaguely heard of them and always thought they were American. The old guy also said they were jewish, but I’m not sure what point he was making about that. He said something about Gershwin. Possibly anti-semitic but I’m not sure. His English wasn’t that good.
In the Roger Otip story “Executioners from the future” (which was originally titled “Ignorance is no defense” but the former title was felt by the publishers to be more marketable in Yankeeland and more likely to lead to a movie deal) the judges and the bailiffs (who carry out the arrests) and the jury are all presented as being very short grey skinned individuals with large black eyes, like the popular image of aliens. Apparently Otip was hoping that Tom Cruise would play the lead prosecutor but Cruise turned down the role because it didn’t fit with Scientologist ideology, and perhaps also because he didn’t like the idea of playing a character who is 4 feet 7 inches tall, several inches shorter than Cruise himself. Perhaps what he really objected to was the following passage in Otip’s screenplay adaptation:
“The prosecutor draws himself up to his full height and looks the defendant squarely in the navel.”