Saturday, December 31, 2005

Doomed but not gloomy

The Guardian’s review section has a profile of James Lovelock the ageing scientist and environmentalist. It was he who gave us the concept of Gaia which, even though it’s often been hijacked by old hippies and others given to hearing secret harmonies and the like, still provides, amongst other things, a reminder of the comparatively unimportant role of humankind in earth’s development.

I’m sure he’s correct when he says that climate change is inevitable whatever we now do. And I agree with him that nuclear energy is the least-worst short-term fix to the looming energy supply crisis in the UK. Alternatives such as wind and tides simply won’t be able to fill the gap left when the current generation of nuclear stations go off line and, as he says, we do need electricity to support our civilisation. He remains upbeat........

Letter writers to the Guardian have found many reasons to be cheerful not all of them ironic. The Independent’s centre spread (once you’ve removed the sports section) has some facts and figures about 2006. For example more than a billion people will have to live on less than one US dollar a day and more than another billion will watch the football world cup final. Lots of huge numbers many relating to population provide another reminder of our individual insignificance. A few pages on Sue Arnold has returned and Howard Jacobson is perplexed by twenty-first century kissing habits. Time marches on. But why do we get so excited about the first day of a new year? Why not the 196th for example?

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