Fact mimics fiction

I was on the phone with a client this week and surprise, surprise, the subject of Covid came up. We were talking about how there is no normal any more. I observed that, if you're in business, all you can do is sit down, have a good long think about things, decide how you're going to proceed, and get on with it. He said 'I'm sure we can do it Peter'. I'm not so sure. Who would have thought, just a couple of years ago that we would all be wearing masks and social distancing, cafes would be closed and we'd be queueing up to get into the supermarket? It's a bit sci-fi and it's happened very quickly.

But hasn't it always been coming to this? I have childhood memories of posters of cities in domes on stalks in the middle of red deserts. Vast wastelands where nobody lives and nothing grows. TV shows regularly featured space travellers leaving a defunct planet Earth and heading off to colonise new worlds. I wonder whether there was any point at which the inhabitants of these fictional versions of our planet stopped to consider what was going wrong. Sometimes it just seems inevitable that we're heading that way. 

There are, of course, a great many people who care enough to do something, but there are just as many who do not. Then there are those who simply do not have the luxury of 'considering the environment' occupied as they are with the business of survival.

Amongst those who care (or who realise that many of their voters do) are those movers and shakers who are about to attend COP26. I'm pleased to say that Scott Morrison has now expressed his intention to attend. He must have read my column of a couple of weeks ago. He might be in for a bit of stick when he gets there though; Australia's environmental record to date is far from great. Biden is going, but Bolsonaro is not. The Queen is going  but President Xi Jinping is not. Putin won't say whether he's going and a few others are being equally coy about their plans. Whatever happens there will be some splendid speeches and many grand, wide-ranging promises made. A similar thing happened in Paris in 2015 but many of the commitments made there turned out to be so much hot air.

Taking into account the principles of cause and effect, along with the economic considerations, corporate momentum, political expediency, and innumerable other factors, it is probably fair to say that the survival or otherwise of the environment as we know it will be a close run thing. Rather like the student who leaves his homework to the last minute, so the human race is beginning to comprehend the inevitable consequences of progress and development. Will the homework be handed in on time? It's in the nature of these things that we won't know until the last minute, and we're not quite there yet.


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