Brindle’s First Blog!

By Keith // Wednesday 12 Sep // 13:20:25 // 1 Comment

I’m trying to keep up with all the fascinating, challenging and often at-odds things I’ve heard about climate change over the last few days since joining the Cape Farewell Youth Expedition. Not that I’ve heard anyone deny the reality of climate change or man’s responsibility; just that the numbers, facts, predictions and consequences rarely seem to agree. One thing all have agreed on, whether it be Prof Mark Maslin from UCL and Director of The Institute of the Environment, Charlie Kronick the long-time activist and senior policy advisor on climate-change for Greenpeace, comedian Marcus Brigstocke, Dr Simon Boxall the eminent oceanographer from Institute of Oceanography in Southampton or the author Vikram Seth is that to tackle climate change mankind will need to use all it’s creativity, not just in science, but also in art, in it’s governance, through comedy, through commerce and through our individual stories.

Mark Maslin, who authored the acclaimed ‘Global Warming – A Brief Introduction.’ put the challenge into perspective by starting his talk on the science of climate change with ‘We cannot address the issue of future world climate change without also addressing the issue of current world poverty.’ Though rich in science content, Mark repeatedly challenged the notation of simply looking at climate change as solely a scientific issue, by pointing out the often devastating socio-economic or political impact of purely scientific responses to climate change…

Charlie Kronick, an inspirational defender of the environment for over 20 years, spoke on the power of activism with both humour and humility and ended by reminding his listeners of 3 salient points regarding climate change;

1. There is no debate regarding the science
2. It’s not to late to change things
3. The solutions already exist

Charlie did not imply that the existing solutions are purely technological, but rather that a step-change was needed away from the prevalent ‘Greed is Good’ mentally that drives our need for more and more stuff.

Tonight I set off towards the Nordic Arctic with 12 students from around the world, Mark Maslin (who unfortunately for him I’m sharing a bunk with), Jess an art teacher from London, Suba a one-time biology teacher and now dance director, Colin a media specialist, Duncan and Joe the film crew, artist Dan Harvey and 5 crew on board the Noordelicht and I ask myself ‘Why are we bothering?’.
And for me the answer is ‘The Lorax.’ I have two boys, one 5 and the other 3, and being a good dad I occasionally listen to my wife read them stories at night. One story they love is ‘The Lorax’ by Dr Seuss, which tells the tale of how a creature called the Oncelor chops down all the Truffalo trees to make Theads which are ‘a thing that everyone needs.’ In doing so the Once-ler deprives the Bar-ba-loots bears of a home, fills the air with ‘smogulous smog’ and pollutes the river with ‘slopperty slop.’ Dr Seuss uses mixed-up words, mixed-up poetry, bright comic illustrations and the oddest creatures with the oddest of names to tell the real story of environmental pollution, corporate greed, deforestation, consumerism and habit lose. And my boys are captivated by every word and every image. It’s a great story. But if, one night, I was to say to them ‘Right boys, get the whiteboard out, tonight I am going to talk about deforestation’ they’d be asleep before you could say ‘Dad do you know just how dull you are sometimes.’ It is the same story, but told differently. One is engaging, passionate, creativity and springs from the author’s desire to tell this particular story (and the other is a bit like being in one of my science classes).

Yesterday Charlie Kronick told us that ‘There is very little that science can do that can change a persons feelings.’ But stories, especially our own stories, told creatively….. well that’s a different story altogether. And that is what this expedition does. It gives the 12 pupils and everyone else on the Noordelicht, their own stories about climate change that combine the creativity of art and science and which they can tell in their own words.

There is one other reason why ‘The Lorax’ is the answer to the question ‘Why are we bothering?’ But I’m not going to tell you that one, you’ll have to buy the book and find out for yourself. It’s a great story.

Tags: Keith Brindle

1 Comment

  1. Colleen Friday 14 Sep, 2007 // 18:43:52

    hey hey. i’ve not read that book, but then again i had a deprived childhood. sounds like you’re having a great time; read the comments on jethro’s blog to find out what we did at lunchtime if you dont already know. tis nice and warm here =D (well… warm for england.)

Comments are now closed on the site