Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change

Collected thoughts.




The Thames Flood Barrier is just down the road from where I live and I regularly cycle past it.

Its a constant reminder of the possible / probable consequences of global warming for London.



Last time I cycled past it the barrier was up for its regular testing. "Gates" slide up from the river bed between these "towers", forming a solid barrier - 30 metres tall at the highest point. It looked eerie and portentous - a wall across the river.

I can't help being glad that I live on the "right" side of the barrier, and also up a hill.



I'm not proud of that fact (the being glad, rather than living the right side....).

I found it sobering though not surprising that James Lovelock - one of the early prophets of the green movement - thinks that we have left it all too late.



I also sometimes wonder if our concern with ecology isn't ultimately self-centred and self-absorbed, another symptom of our anthropocentrism - we care about the consequences of our actions because they affect us not because they affect the earth. The earth will not be bothered if we expire from those consequences. The earth will adapt, and survive, and continue without us.

I enjoyed very much Margaret Atwood's book Oryx and Crake which presents some interesting projections about our use and abuse of science and the environment. Some of the ideas and images have stayed with me. I plan to read the "sequel" (-ish, not quite apparently) Year of the Flood.



A Theme Thursday post
also see Blog Action Day - Climate Change

I will be away this weekend and so it may take me a while to get around and visit your blogs... sorry, I'll try and catch up with you soon.

19 comments:

Baino said...

I'm so impressed with your photography and also very sorry that we missed these leviathans last time we were in London. I think you are very right when you say that we care about what affects 'us' rather than what affects the planet. Pathetic introspection actually because we are the problem. It's all about maintaining our creature comforts when sacrificing very few would make a significant impact. But isn't that the way human nature works? We are selfish at the core . . which is why images of stranded polar bears, whale flukes or strange weather events (that frankly are not that strange) excite us into choruses of 'global warming'. . .it's here folks, it's happening so what are you going to do about it?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

great post ...yes the earth will adapt and continue without us .... it maybe selfish but I do wish we'd heed the call to action so we will remain on this lovely spinning ball.

thumbs up to oryx and crake. funny you mentioned year of the flood, I just saw it on being logged at the library (as a new acquisition) and immediately put myself on the list! I wait with bated breath....

Jasmine said...

I love these pictures. I have never visited the Thames Barrier. My Fiance is from London. My dad always makes a point of asking his mum how the Thames Barrier is holding out? I don't know if thats from genuine concern or a sly dig at their southern orientation... For my part, I loved living in London.

Brian Miller said...

i am intrigued by the pics you have posted of the barrier...do we use the issues to further our selfish agendas...yes. will the earth go on without us..yes. will i miss being able to check blogs after we are gone...yes. guess we better wake up. sobering.

Barbara said...

Margaret Atwood always has a dose of beyond-reality for her readers. I'm pulling Oryx and Crake off my shelf as we speak. The pictures are somewhat eerie. I'm glad you live on the RIGHT side!

Betsy said...

Interesting pictures....great thoughts!

Colette Amelia said...

Great photos! Wow they are imposing...that is the rub isn't it? If all hell breaks out and we are safe...will we really be safe? The desperate hoards. The guilt, the fear...

ArtSparker said...

They are beautiful, the flood barrier gates...so sleek, so clearly the work of busy, busy mankind and not of nature. I will look into the Atwood books.

e said...

That flood barrier is certainly imposing, Lettuce! Thanks for the photos and the mention of the books. I will check them out as well. Enjoy your weekend.

Steve said...

I would love to see a photo of this barrier with the gates up.

Our concern does seem anthropocentric (great word!) but maybe that's the best way to motivate people. Seems that appealing to them on behalf of the birds/fish/animals/plants often just invites scorn.

Poetikat said...

When I first opened up your blog, I thought I was in Sydney Australia!
What an amazing sight to see and what a sober reminder, on your doorstep, as it were. We all need something like that to keep this issue present at the forefront of our minds.

Akelamalu said...

It's a very imposing structure isn't it? Your photos of it are amazing. Have a great weekend.

Wings said...

Interesting post, with some amazing photos!

Roy said...

Great photos, Lettuce! I hadn't realized London had a flood barrier in the Thames. Those towers are quite impressive.

I agree with Steve:
Our concern does seem anthropocentric (great word!) but maybe that's the best way to motivate people. Seems that appealing to them on behalf of the birds/fish/animals/plants often just invites scorn.
Invoking the loss of Nature just doesn't seem to mean much to a lot of people nowadays.

Susan said...

Sobering & beautiful...yes, I agree with you. I think you'll like Atwood's new one. You're like me, thinking about it so much. Someone told me to stop but honestly. How can I? I work with people who are on the other side of the same mess...the consequences of the desertification of nothern/central Africa. I was only 18 when I first went...people then were talking about the Sahara creeping up. Now...well, it's bad as you no doubt know.

Still, I hope you have a good weekend. Recharge to keep charging ahead & so on.

xoxo

Dreamhaven said...

The flood gates look like ships that have split in half.

Both beautiful and thought provoking.

Happy TT

Gary said...

Of course that is the only reason people care, generally speaking. The earth WILL carry on and probably be better off without us screwing things up.

Shammickite said...

The Thames barrier is an incredible piece of engineering, and I certainly hope it does it's job if and when it's required. But you are right, we are only concerned with our own survival and comfort when we speak of rescuing the earth from the global warming threat, we are not really worried about the earth iself.

goatman said...

These structures confuse me. I don't see how they can restrict flow of the river (from these photos) -- water can flow around them. What is the domed structure in the background , being constructed?

I had a problem with Oryx and Crake wherein I couldn't seem to get into the story. Perhaps the new offering will get me into the future/speculative-fiction mood. She has been being interviewed endlessly here to push the book and is very cheery and upbeat with each interview.
Much laughing ensues with her joyful outlook.