A Climate Carol
Madrid, December 14
I’ve been watching too many global warming documentaries lately. It’s a dangerous subject. If you start to think too much about the possible implications, you could freak out. A friend of mine who specialises in thinking, once told me of his sincere concern for man kind. “I fear the end is in sight.”
That’s what he said. And every time the subject comes up, it seems as though I can hear that phrase, resounding like a church bell.
Speaking of church bells, with the jolly season coming up, I have also been reading a bit of Dickens these days: The Chimes (1844). Now, you will understand that I was happily surprised when coincidence all seemed to bring it together yesterday evening in Puerta del Sol, where people from the Environment working group staged a performance of A Climate Christmas Carol…
Before it started the actors gave a brief account about the failed climate conference in Durban, about the lack of political will to act, about global warming being turned into a business.
“We are thirty years late. We have to act NOW”, was the slogan. They started distributing pieces of cardboard and felt pens so that people could write down their proposals.
‘Use the bike,’, ‘Turn down the heat, put on a sweater’, ‘Recycle the water of the shower for the loo’, ‘Switch off equipment you don’t use’, ‘Don’t take the plane, take the train’. Etc. etc.
Enter Scrooge. He receives the proposals. “Very nice, people, very nice. But all these proposals are not going to make a dime’s worth of difference. And you know why? Because you don’t have the power…
“I have the power.”
Scrooge is CEO of Repsol, Spanish petroleum. He wears a golden top hat, and he grins. “Each and every one of you depends on me. For your cars, for the production of your food, for your cell phones, your clothes, your shopping bags, your toys, everything. Without oil, you are nothing. So go ahead, turn down the heat. I don’t care, I will be making loads of money of you in any case.”
Look how content he is about himself, the old bastard! He lies down to rest.
Enter a spirit, dressed in white. Delicately she wakes Scrooge up.
“Who the hell are you?!”
“I am the Spirit of Climate Past.”
The spirit takes Scrooge to his younger days, to his lovely girlfriend. “Do you remember, Scrooge? You two wanted to be rangers!”
“Oh yeah,” Scrooge admits with a hint of melancholy, “silly old me.”
“But then you got that offer to go work at Repsol and earn lots of money. And you took it.”
“Of course I did! Who do you think I am?”
“But it meant you lost her Scrooge, the only person you ever cared about.”
Scrooge bows his head. “For money, Scrooge”, the spirit adds, with disgust. Then she disappears. Scrooge goes back to sleep.
Next, a big figure in white, rudely awakens him.
“Who are you?”
“I am the Spirit of Climate Present, Scrooge. And me o my, I hope you are happy with yourself!”
“Look at what you did, Scrooge… Look at our rivers, look at our soil, smell the air for heaven’s sake! All of it is polluted. And it’s all thanks to you.”
“Is it really?”
“Who else would be to blame, Scrooge? You made all the world dependent on that greasy oil of yours! But undoubtedly, you must be content, because at least you got rich… Enjoy it, Scrooge. Enjoy it while it lasts…”
Scrooge doesn’t seem to be as happy as he was when he goes back to rest. He is frightened when he gets woken up again.
“Who are you?!”
“I am the Spirit of Climate Future, Scrooge. I am here to show you what your actions are going to lead to…”
Thus begin the dance. The spirits twirl around over the square as the wind and the storms are howling.
“Look, Scrooge! The deserts are advancing! The sea levels are rising! Entire cities, entire nations are flooded! People are fleeing to the few inhabitable zones that remain. Wars are raging for water and arable land. And all over the globe, people are starving. This is the future, Scrooge, and it’s all your fault!”
“No!” Scrooge yells, “tell me it isn’t true!”
“It’s true alright. But what’s even worse is that you knew this was going to happen, and you didn’t do anything about it!”
“No, spirit, I didn’t know! Believe me, I didn’t know!”
“Bullocks, Scrooge! You looked the other way, out of greed!”
“So w-what h-happens to me, spirit? What is my fate?”
“Ha! Even while society is crumbling you only worry about yourself, don’t you? Well, let me tell you this: with all the wealth you have accumulated over the years, you won’t even have the luxury of your own tomb, Scrooge… You will be down there in the pit with all the others!”
Scrooge wakes, screaming. It was a nightmare.
“What year is it?”
“Two thousand eleven! Then it’s not too late yet! We have to act now! Give me those proposals!”
Scrooge takes the pieces of cardboard, reads them out loud, and throws them up into the air one by one. ‘Take the bike!’, ‘Turn down the heat, put on a sweater!’ Etc. etc.