Human Distraction, Denmark, and Destiny

Human distraction with regard to its own survival can be appalling at times. The admirable movie War and Peace, of 1956—inspired on the book of the same name by the renowned writer Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)—gives an example of it, telling the story of when Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) and his troops approached Moscow, young and careless aristocrats were busy getting quite drunk and tottering on window sills performing unbelievable acrobatics while pouring vodka steadily down their throats. Very well!...Albeit all that, the Corsican lost the war, but his defeat actually began with the approaching of the so-called Russian, or General Winter that would also bring to their knees, the likes of Hitler (1889-1945) and Von Paulus (1890-1957) in the following century, the twentieth. It is equally true that Russians ended up adopting a “scorched earth” policy, a military strategy devised by the former Minister of War of emperor Alexander I (1777-1825), Mikhail Barclay de Tolly (1761-1818), and General Kutuzov (1745-1813) who mercilessly vexed Bonaparte until the latter was expelled from Russia on December 14, 1812. But all this doesn’t change the fact that the cream of czarist society chose a very bad time to get drunk.

Despite the powerful voices that proclaim the danger that hangs over our heads, there doesn’t yet seem to be a unified world attitude, one that is convinced of the seriousness of the climate explosion which is in preparation and which already hits us with surprising and tragic phenomena, such as the storms and tornados that have been lashing out at our beautiful State of Santa Catarina—without mentioning the torrential rains which have already dislodged thousands of people from their homes and left some 4,000 people unsheltered in the cities of Duque de Caxias, Belford Roxo, Três Rios and Tanguá, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Inhabitants of the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre face a similar situation, aside from a score more from other 15 cities of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

Scholarly opinions—such as those of the award-winning scientist Paul Mayewski, director and professor of the Climate Change Institute of the University of Maine, in the U.S., who has been studying the Antarctic region now for over 40 years—affirm that an increase in the planet’s temperature would signify “a tremendous redistribution in where one would be able to have agriculture. Tremendous changes in storm patterns. You could very well see sea level rises on the order of several feet and perhaps even several tens of feet. If sea level were to rise it would be tremendous changes, immense migrations. It would be the worst catastrophe of the modern world”.

Leaders from several countries will convene in Denmark in December. However, they will have major challenges to face, one of which is the current economic structure, consolidated on fossil fuels, bringing sicknesses, since among other evils they contaminate the air we breathe. Yes, there is a great effort towards clean energy matrixes. But have we not passed the point of no return? That is precisely the view of James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, considered the world’s preeminent global warming scientist.

Optimism vs. Reality

I am a born optimist; however, I try to keep an eye on the reality which is exposed for everyone to see. Now, we have all been living as earthlings in a period of ticket-of-leave for quite a while. Al Gore is no amateur. His documentary feature, An Inconvenient Truth should have shocked the world’s population. However, a kind of hypnotic slumber seems to hang in which the only ones to continue blind to these facts are those who were caught by that key designed by Jesus, in His Gospel according to Luke, 17:26 and 27: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of God. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all”.

And here there’s no mystical or moronic story, the preferred accusation of some who systematically deny the existence of the intruder who is about to bust the door to their homes. The case with the bubble in the economy of the U.S. which affected the entire planet is typical. To only possess the knowledge of dangers that surround us doesn’t make us a prudent species. There are those who are prone to listen to the chant of mermaids of interests that now or later will come up as genocidal. Only that in this globalizing era, no one, really no one is protected from something that is truly threatening, that has happened or that will happen in the most isolated spots on Earth, that is, if such places do still exist. Viruses, the smallest/greatest enemy that frightens us more than yesterday, have never found more favorable conditions for its propagation than in these times we live in. Their faithful mate, Pollution and other less voted buddies fuel them with all they need to accommodate themselves within our bodies and to further become increasingly difficult to be controlled by the abyss of inconceivable mutations.

Actually, the serious issue of global warming with its fatal consequences, aggravated by pollution that weaken the masses, places every living creature at risk.

The Lesson from History

Therefore, it is a basic thing for us to look back to the past in order to better protect ourselves, now and in the future, as Brian Fagan, the author of The Long Summer—How Climate Changed Civilization, proposed. 

Scholars such as Fagan, an English archaeologist, highlight the possible connections between climate changes and, for instance, the Mongol civilization under the command of Genghis Khan (1165?-1227). A nomad people, they required fertile soil and plenty of water for their undertakings. The semiarid regions such as the Mongolian steppes, when undergoing seasons of heavy rain, caused by climate change, enabled Khan the conditions to strengthen his war cavalry and expand, crushing those who opposed him.


Back to the 21st century, an overpopulated one and straining under a severe economic crisis, more for some than for others, plus with the military power of our times, any migration can be a dangerous thing, as I once pondered to the Portuguese journalist Ana Serra.

Let us then attentively await the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15), which will take place in December in Denmark.

This meeting—considered by specialists as Humanity’s most important gathering since the post-Second World War agreement—aims at reinforcing the commitment of the G8+5 countries in maintaining global warming below the mark of 2º C.

“Really?” some will say. But let us continue to work and hope for the best regarding the proposals our country will take to this meeting while also hoping for a better agreement to be reached in Copenhagen, for our planet to come out as the winner in these discussion panels. The opposite would be governments not governing for the governed. Sooner or later, a truly collective suicide. After all, the fate of the world is being decided. Mother Nature and the new generations beg for our solidarity and for more sense.

José de Paiva Netto is a writer, journalist, radio broadcaster, composer, and poet. He is the President of the Legion of Good Will (LGW), effective member of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and of the Brazilian International Press Association (ABI-Inter). Affiliated to the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Union of Professional Journalists of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Writers of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Radio Broadcasters of Rio de Janeiro, and the Brazilian Union of Composers (UBC). He is also a member of the Academy of Letters of Central Brazil. He is an author of international reference in the concept and defense of the cause of Ecumenical Citizenship and Spirituality which, according to him, constitute “the cradle of the most generous values that are born of the Soul, the dwelling of the emotions and of the reasoning enlightened by intuition, the atmosphere that embraces everything that transcends the ordinary field of matter and comes from the elevated human sensitivity, such as Truth, Justice, Mercy, Ethics, Honesty, Generosity, and Fraternal Love.”