Introduction to the booklet World Rescue by Nares Craig, 2002
The French seventeenth century philosopher, Blaise Pascale, once apologized to a lady he corresponded with for writing her such a long letter, but, as he sought to make her understand, he “did not have the time to write her a shorter one”. This may appear to be a feeble excuse but in my experience it is quite easy to waffle but much more difficult to be concise and to the point. This, Nares Craig has done, and done very well. In this little book, he provides just about all the information necessary to make all but the most biased realize the truly horrifying rate at which we are making this planet uninhabitable.
When I say “we” it is not the general public I refer to. We have been made increasingly dependent, in order to satisfy our immediate needs, on a socio-economic system, that by its very nature, can only churn up the natural world and consign to it ever more voluminous and more toxic wastes. This process has now gone so far that the material benefits it provides—to some of us at least—cannot conceivably compensate for any further damage it causes to the natural world.
As Nares Craig notes, nothing makes this clearer than what is undoubtedly the most daunting problem that our socio-economic system has brought into being: global warming or climate change. This will affect every aspect of our lives which, among other things, makes nonsense of the discussions held in Johannesburg the other day, as none of them—at the request of Mr George W. Bush and the oil industry that he works for—take climate change into account. Any discussion of health care, for instance, is nonsense if it does not consider the inevitable invasion of temperate areas, as temperatures rise, by the vectors and pathogens of such tropical diseases as dengue fever and malaria, and, as Nares Craig also makes clear, a host of other equally unpleasant ones. Any discussion of poverty alleviation makes little sense if it does not consider the hunger and misery that will be created by the drying up of vast areas of our planet and the millions of refugees that will be forced to move to still habitable areas. Any discussion of the sort of agriculture we need to promote is just as nonsensical if it does not take into account the new conditions that our farmers will be subjected to by climate change—the heat waves, droughts, storms, floods, that they will have to cater for and the increasing unpredictability of day-to-day weather conditions.
This being the case, and in view of all the other hideous problems that our present socio-economic system gives rise to -it would be suicidal to leave it unchanged—and unfortunately the changes required are very deep ones. To slow down climate change involves above all phasing out fossil fuels and doing so very quickly indeed, but also—and this is equally important -protecting what remains of the natural world—which today contains some sixty times more carbon than does the atmosphere, much of which would otherwise be released to it, causing a corresponding rise in temperatures and climatic destabilization. There is no stronger argument for environmental protection—indeed for subjecting to it all those economic considerations that seem to monopolize the attention of our political leaders.
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