When the wind blows

I watched When the Wind Blows last night, the animation of the book by Raymond Briggs (who did the more famous The Snowman – I bet you can sing it!).

When the Wind Blows was made in the 1980’s when nuclear war was the threat, not climate change, but it was interesting to draw parallels between the two big issues. The elderly couple, which Briggs admits are in small ways based on his parents, are confident that the ‘Governmental Committees’ will organise their rescue. The measures suggested in pamphlets available at the local library tell them what to put aside in case of emergency, including 2 pints of water per day per person and sundry plasters and bandages. It is clear that  the measures are totally inadequate, drawing a parallel perhaps to advice now to ‘switch off the lights when we leave the room’, good advice but way short of doing enough to save us.

Can we also draw parallels with closure of the News of the World? I think we can. In my life I have associated the News of the World with groundbreaking journalism and trashy voyeurism, a formula that somehow kept the newspaper profitable while most around them failed. But as income stalled, little by little the trashy took over, and then some pretty vile stuff/staff ruled, and when found out we have had a constant stream of too little too late. Too little too late is always very costly, yet again and again we fail to be wary enough to note that that is what we are doing. For BSkyB the cost so far has been a 4% drop in share price, a pretty expensive too little too late indeed (that is one link that will be out of date in seconds!).

Too little too late is also what we are facing in East Africa. Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, 4 countries so far, are facing a drought (donations needed) which seems to have appeared too late on our horizons and we are now in danger of once again doing too little. From over here on the Western side of Europe, I can’t help but wonder about how we don’t have early warning signs. I was in Ethiopia earlier this year and no-one mentioned the possibility of drought, but that was in Addis Ababa, where it was raining, on some days at least. But predicting consequences of drought is perhaps not easy. This drought has occurred from just two seasons rain failure.

In a country which only ever has seasonal rains, I can understand that you sit and wait and if they are a bit late then over a year goes by with no rain. Then suddenly you know you are not going to get any this year. And rain is notoriously unpredictable. When I was on a Finca in Spain over the 2009/10 winter, they were terribly worried about yet another year with inadequate rain, then mid December, very  late, the rains started, and filled all the dams so quickly, well, never has rain like that been seen before.

With the prospect of even more dramatic effects of climate change it seems vital we address the too little too late processes. We are probably too late already to avoid some pretty scary and terrible disasters, but we can do everything we can to get through, and advice to save 2 pints of water per person, or to switch off the lights as we leave the room, must be seen as far too little and far too late. We must stop consuming the planet as if every year it refreshes itself. We only have one planet, and too little too late will kill not just a few million people in Africa but a few billion all over the world.

Planet Earth must not have on its gravestone, Too little Too Late.

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