Wednesday, December 1, 2021
HomeNewsWorld exclusive – what the Earth thinks about COP26

World exclusive – what the Earth thinks about COP26

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. . . being an interview between an utterly unbiased BBC reporter and our Earth . . .

How does it feel to be here in Scotland and hearing all these important people talking about you?

You mean the hordes of apostles of reduced carbon footprint who have arrived, complete with entourage, to talk hot air?

That’s rather harsh, Planet. I know our record has been pretty awful so far, but world leaders are really trying to get their act together this time.

By way of arriving in Glasgow where the bins are overflowing and stinking in the streets? They tell me there are 25,000 of them arrived by jet. And nobody laughs! The Chinks and the Ruskies won’t come and the President of the United States has fallen asleep.

It’s all in a good cause, Planet. After all, we are doing our best to save you.

I don’t need saving. I’ve survived a collision with an asteroid, constant bombardment by cosmic rays and the Eurovision Song Contest. D’you really think I’m fazed by the self-righteous blathering of Sir David Attenborough and a whimpering idiot child?

But, Planet, you of anyone must understand the catastrophic fate you face owing to climate change.

Look – the climate has been changing all my life. That’s what climate does! And will you kindly stop addressing me as Planet? I’m not like the other floating balls. For tens of thousands of years you’ve called me Earth, and sometimes most touchingly Mother Earth.

I’m sorry and I’ll mind my manners in future. But you – we – are experiencing unprecedented warming.

Now look, I don’t want to swear when little Greta might be listening, but what you’re saying is just b******s! Today’s temperatures are by no means the highest experienced even in comparatively recent times. I’m a lot cooler now than I was during the last post-glacial warming period between 6,000 BC and 3,000 BC. If you don’t believe me, look at the studies of tree pollen data. Then take a butcher’s at animal, bird and insect remains, as well as tree-rings analysis. During those three millennia, the mean annual global temperature was 2.1C higher than today.

But the ice caps! Look at the ice caps!

I don’t have to look at them. They are, so to speak, my top and my bottom. And my bottom is actually getting colder – except for where it rubs up against South America, where I admit it’s warming: but that’s because of all the volcanic activity there, not because the Argies are driving around in 4x4s.

But you must have noticed all the extreme weather events we’re having?

Of course I’ve noticed them. I feel them in my bones! But there have always been what you call extreme weather events. D’you never read the Bible and the tales of floods and dearths and famines? Well, perhaps you don’t read the Bible? You modern types know better than God, don’t you! But d’you never look at Herodotus, Thucydides and Gibbon? And Dickens goes on for pages about times when the Thames froze over for weeks on end.

But you don’t understand, I’m not talking about one-off events. I’m talking about a trend.

What, by using these one-off extreme weather events to demonstrate a trend?! If it’s trends you’re looking for, how about the 9th century trend when there were vines growing in Greenland? Was the warmth which produced vines at such a northerly latitude all down to the Vikings in their jumbo jets and motorcycle scrambling in Lapland?

You can’t deny that human activity is having a big effect on the climate.

do deny it. You claim that warming is caused by methane and carbon dioxide. But the amount of methane in the atmosphere has actually reduced in recent years. And, within the margin of error, levels of carbon dioxide have remained the same. Carbon dioxide is a gas necessary to sustain life on earth and most of it comes from plants and human exhalations. You couldn’t do much to reduce that apart from universal defoliation and mass suicide.

But tell me, why would governments invent unpopular policies which so burden people with high prices? Why risk ruining the world economy if the case for climate change is unproven?

You’re asking me to answer questions which have nothing to do with me. You’re asking about human motivation, psychology and politics. I haven’t the slightest interest in these matters, but I have noticed that governments like power and control. They best get what they want when there’s an emergency – like the powers they ascribe to themselves in wartime. When there is no such emergency, they invent one.

And then there’s hubris. You imagine that puny humans can save what you rudely call the Planet when you can’t save your city centres from ugliness? Those crazed adolescents who say they want to save the Planet by the idiotic and antisocial activities of gluing themselves to motorways and defacing public buildings don’t even save electricity by turning off the light when they leave the room. There’s something amusing and very sad about people who call themselves friends of the earth but incessantly inconvenience the people next door.

I think it’s time we finished our chat. You go back into your talking shop, your hot-air factory. I must be on my way. I’ve got a long journey ahead.

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Peter Mullen
Peter Mullen is a Church of England clergyman, writer and broadcaster

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