An Age of Loneliness
- 3 Oct 06, 03:14 PM
For this series we've put teams of people in North America, Greenland, Madagascar, The Pacific, Europe and the UK. We've been talking to academics from some of the worlds great institutions and we've been talking to people on the ground. The big wigs think we're heading for catastrophe, those on the ground are mixed. It's the twice Pulitzer Prize winning Harvard academic EO Wilson who thinks we're heading for an age of loneliness, a planet with just us and not much else - also echoed by research from the Hadley Centre for Climate Protection & Research in the UK. And in EO Wilson's latest book he believes we must all pull together and save life on Earth. Save The Creation.
For many people in drought ridden Africa they will know what it's like to live in a barren landscape devoid of wildlife and land unable to support crops. Already for the peoples of two island nations in the Pacific there's evidence that climate change is effecting the ability of their island to support them: their drinking water is becoming contaminated by the rising sea. In parts of Siberia, houses built on the perma frost are collapsing as it thaws.
But what about most of you out there, do you sense change? Or is the apocalyptic vision of the big movers and shakers in research institutes light years away from the reality around you. I sense a vast gap between the theorists and us.
Someone told me recently - a person who is terrified of heights - she couldn't understand why she feared it so much. After all (she said) ...it's only the last inch that kills you" If such a riddle is at all applicable - have we all got a jolly good head for heights because we simply don't think the last inch of the fall will occur in our life time.
Or have the researchers got it wrong? After all, we live in a climate of fear and we're all being told something terrible is happening and that has political punch. We're told we must change our life styles to fend off this impending lonely planet.
James Lovelock, who features heavily in our series, thinks we are all still tribes at heart. And as tibal people, when disaster strikes (rather like a lion rampaging through an African village), everyone comes out to deal with the aggressor. When it comes to it (Lovelock says) our individual interests will be the same as the tribe as a whole, the same as society as a whole. Lovelock believes we will turn on the effects and causes of global warming and do something about it at the 11th hour - the last inch.
In his latest book The Creation, EO Wilson too says humanity will triumph and life on Earth will triumph because the individual and common interests will be the same (Science, Religion, Society). His book is an appeal to all the sectors of global society to save life on earth.
But why do we have to be threatened with an era of loneliness - a planet devoid of diverse life, just us and a few rats and cockroaches, to act. Why are the ideas of climate change so alien to common peoples thinking and lives, like me. What evidence do we need?
Something which has starkly come out of our series is a need for new leadership. Environment is going to be at the top of every political agenda. Who then will be the first global environmentalist?
The Creation E.O. Wilson ISBN 13: 978 -0-393-062217-5